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Glossary of Terms

The list of terms below may help faculty better understand the terms many international students and scholars may use. 

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors (J-1 students and scholars). This document must be maintained and active throughout their time in the U.S.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a paid off-campus internship/opportunity directly related to the F-1 student’s field of study. The purpose of CPT is not to facilitate employment authorization but to allow students to participate in training related to their field of study. This is usually an internship for credit or if a graduate student, an assistantship of some sort.

Students are required to read the CPT Guide and Application Process and complete the CPT Request Form.

Typically, students on CPT will need to enroll in a credit-bearing course. This course must be approved by faculty members.


The Designated School Official (DSO) is a staff member who is the liaison between the students and scholars and the Department of Homeland Security. DSOs are responsible for learning, interpreting, and applying laws and government policies pertaining to F-1 students, signing I-20’s, and creating and updating SEVIS records. At Western New England University, DSOs can be found in Admissions, the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office, and Student Affairs. ISSS should be your first contact for matters concerning international students and scholars on campus.

F visa status
A non-immigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at a U.S. academic institution that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security to offer courses of study, and has been enrolled in SEVIS.

H-1B visa status

H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign national employee to work in a "specialty occupation" for a limited period of time. H-1B sponsorship through the prospective employer may be applied for either while in the U.S. or from abroad. H-1B visas last for no more than six years and are subject to a quota or 'cap' per fiscal year. The initial filing period for H-1B petitions begins on 01 April of each year, for employment beginning in 01 October of that year.

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 the student’s studies

Prior to April 2013, individuals entering the U.S. were issued a paper I-94 card (little white card). As of April 30, 2013, Customs and Border Protection (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.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
ISSS provides advising, immigration services, programming, advocacy, and outreach for the international student and scholar population at Western New England University.

J Visa status
There are many J-1 "categories," one of which is student and short-term researcher. All exchange students at the university are on J-1 visa status. 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.

A non-immigrant is someone who seeks temporary entry to the U.S. for a specific purpose. The non-immigrant must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the classification sought. An immigrant is someone who enters the U.S. planning to remain permanently. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT provides off-campus work authorization either during their degree program or after for F-1 students. Most students participate in OPT once they complete their degree.

Students typically receive one year of OPT but STEM students are eligible for an extension.

Students must read and complete the OPT Application Packet and the OPT STEM Extension Packet. There is a short section for faculty to complete on the ISSS OPT Request Form included in the packet.

Responsible Officers are appointed by the exchange visitors’ (J visa) program sponsor to perform the duties set forth in regulations, signs DS-2019’s, creates and updates J-1 records in SEVIS. At Western New England University, ROs can be found in Admissions and ISSS. ISSS should be your first contact for matters concerning international students and scholars on campus.

Student Exchange and Visitor Information System. Tracks information on F, J, and M visa holders. Immigration data is entered into this federally-managed database. The university's DSOs manage student data as a representative of USCIS.

Two Year Home Residency requirement aka 212(e)
The two-year home country physical presence requirement is one of the most important requirements of exchange visitor status. Some J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents are subject to the 212(e).

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency responsible for enforcing the regulations that apply to foreign nationals within the U.S.

A visa is a ‘ticket’ for entry to the country upon arrival. International students and scholars may be in the U.S. with an expired visa, but they may not return to the United States until they present a valid visa, valid passport, and Form I-20 endorsed within the previous year. It is expected that F-1 and J-1 visa applicants understand and intend to abide by the temporary nature of their stay before a visa is issued.

Visa Application
Visa applications may be submitted to U.S. Consulates and Embassies up to 90 days before the program start date listed on the I-20/DS-2019, but students and scholars may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date.