Glossary of Immigration Terms
Having a hard time decoding the different abbreviations, differentiating between the different forms and understanding the terminology used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for student visa applications?


Here’s everything you need to know in order to navigate the U.S. Immigration System easily on your own:

Abbreviations and Terms Here are the commonly used terms and abbreviations:

DHS – Department of Homeland Security

INS – Immigration and Naturalization Service

SEVP – Student and Exchange Visitor Program

SEVIS – Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

USCIS – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Student Visa Types

All foreign nationals who intend to enter the United States for study purposes must apply for a student visa.

Generally, there are two types of student visa:

F-1 Visa
This type of student visa is issued to all foreign nationals who intend to enter the United States and attend either of the following:

•  University or College
•  High School
•  Private Elementary School
•  Seminary
•  Conservatory
•  Language Training Program
•  Other Academic Institutions

M-1 Visa
This type of student visa is issued to all foreign nationals who intend to enter the United States and enroll in a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution.

Student Visa Forms

Form DS-160
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

The DS-160 is required for all nonimmigrants who intend to travel or live temporarily in the United States. This form is completely electronic and must be completed and submitted online.

In addition, you need to bring the DS-160 confirmation page with you on your interview.

Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students

The Form I-20 is issued to all foreign nationals who are eligible for F-1 student status. It certifies that the individual has met the following requirements:

•  He or she is a "bona fide" student
•  He or she has met the admission requirements of the academic institution
•  He or she will pursue a full course of study
•  He or she has provided sufficient proof of funds to study and live in the United States without illegal employment

Note that your school is responsible for entering your information for the Form I-20 into SEVIS. This form must be obtained from an accredited US college, school or university. In addition, you and a school official must sign it.

Form I-94
The Form I-94 is a form issued by the USCIS upon entry to the United States. It provides information on how long you are authorized to stay in the US.

Note: The Form I-94 is a small piece of paper that is usually attached to your passport. It serves as proof of your legal status in the United States. Please do not lose this documentation.

Form I-134
Affidavit of Support

A sponsor uses the Form I-134 in order to show that the nonimmigrant being sponsored has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to become a public liability. International students who are financially supported by an individual residing in the United States need to complete and submit this form.

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