glossary of terms

The following list includes important terms and acronyms for new members of the campus community

Immigration & Visas

  • SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.SEVIS is an internet-based program that has been developed by ICE to track all students and scholars who are in F-1 and J-1 status. Their spouses and child dependents are tracked in SEVIS as well.
  • USCIS: US Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for most application and petition adjudications.
  • I-20: A multi-purpose government form used in connection with F-1 procedures. This document must be maintained and active in order to be in legal status in the U.S. during the course of your studies.
  • DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors (J-1 students). This document must be maintained and active throughout your studies in the U.S.
  • Entry visa: A stamp placed on a page in a passport, issued by a consular officer.The visa is only “used” to enter the U.S. Once you have entered the United States, the visa ceases to have a function until next time it is needed to enter the U.S.
  • Passport: A formal document issued by an authorized official of a country to one of its citizens that is usually necessary for exit from and reentry into the country, that allows the citizen to travel in a foreign country in accordance with visa requirements
  • I-94: Prior to April 2013, individuals entering the US were issued paper I-94 cards (little white card). As of April 30, 2013, CBP will no longer require international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records.
  • DSO: Designated School Official responsible for learning, interpreting, and applying laws and government policies pertaining to F-1 students. Signs I-20’s, creates and updates F-1 records in SEVIS.
  • F-1: A non-immigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at a US academic institution that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security to offer courses of study, and has been enrolled in SEVIS
  • J-1: The general purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. J-1 students must be admitted to a degree program for a full course of study or be engaged full time in a non-degree course of study. 50% or more funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds.
  • ARO: Alternate Responsible Officers appointed by the exchange visitors’ program sponsor to perform the duties set forth in regulations and represent the exchange visitor program sponsor. Signs DS-2019’s, creates and updates J-1 records in SEVIS.


  • Summer Registration: Summer Registration is a mandatory one-day program for all incoming students, marking the start of your college experience at Illinois.However, some students may not be able to participate due to excessive distance or cost. Such students will have other options for registration such as online advising (satellite advising).
  • University: A university is an institution of higher education and research which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects
  • College: A school, sometimes but not always a university.Separate entities of different disciplines of study represented under the University. For example, Gies College of Business, Grainger College of Engineering, etc.
  • Department: Specific unit within a college. For example, the Department of Accounting is within the Gies College of Business.
  • On-campus housing (dorms): Living accommodations owned and managed by the University of Illinois.
  • Off-campus: Privately owned houses or apartments not affiliated with the University of Illinois.
  • Private certified housing: Housing that is certified to the University of Illinois standards, but owned and operated by a private landlord. These residences meet the one year on-campus living requirement.
  • Academic advisor: Staff or faculty member assigned to advise and guide a student to achieve academic goals
  • International student advisor: Provides advising, immigration services, programming, advocacy, and outreach to the international student population.


  • Dependents: Spouse or children (EX: F-2, J-2, H-4) of the primary visa holder (EX: F-1, J-1, H-1B).