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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 the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 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 Urbana-Champaign.
  • Off-campus: Privately owned houses or apartments not affiliated with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Private certified housing: Housing that is certified to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 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).