Immigrations Terminology

DHS: Department of Homeland Security. DHS consists of 3 organizations: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  DHS provides the basic governmental framework for regulating the flow of visitors, workers and immigrants to the U.S.

DS-2019: A government form which allows you to obtain a J-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and enter the U.S. as a J-1 student.

D/S: Duration of Status. D/S is granted in the immigration inspection area. D/S allows students to remain in the U.S. for the length of time necessary to complete their studies. D/S generally ends on the last day of classes (i.e., I-20 or DS-2019 expiration date), plus a 60-day grace period for F-1 students and 30-day grace period for J-1 students.

DSO: Designated School Official. A staff member at your school who acts as the liaison between you and the Department of Homeland Security. Fuller has three DSOs and one PDSO.

EAD: Employment Authorization Document. A work permit issued by the USCIS that allows you to legally work in the U.S beginning and ending on the dates of your authorized employment.

Grace Period: Grace period refers to a 60-day departure preparation period immediately following a student's I-20 completion date or OPT completion date.

Green Card: Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as green card), is a wallet-sized card showing that the person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the U.S.

In Status: Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the U.S. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered "out of status." See Maintaining Status.

I-94Arrival-Departure Record. The I-94 is electronically issued to all nonimmigrants by the U.S. immigration inspectors at the port of entry. It is evidence of legal entry into the U.S., indicating date of entry, status granted (F-1 or J-1), and length of stay granted. To retrieve your I-94 visit

I-20A government form which will allow you to obtain an F-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. It is a three page document that is sent to you before you attend school. It shows your field of study, starting and ending dates of study and financial information

I-9: A form to prove employment eligibility for anyone being hired.

Nonimmigrant Visa: A U.S. visa allows the bearer, a foreign citizen, to apply to enter the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose. Student visas are examples of nonimmigrant visas.

Overstay: An "overstay" occurs when a visitor stays longer than permitted as shown on his/her Arrival/Departure (I-94) card. A violation of the CBP defined length of admission may make you ineligible for a visa in the future.

PDSO: Primary Designated School Official. The person designated by a SEVP-approved school to have primary responsibility for students in that program and maintaining SEVIS records.

: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, An online reporting database for tracking and reporting F, J, and M students in the U.S.

SEVIS ID Number: The unique identifying number assigned to a student or exchange visitor within SEVIS that appears on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Status: Once nonimmigrants enter the U.S., they are classified by the immigrations inspectors according to the visa used to enter. If you use an F-1 visa to enter the U.S., you will be grated F-1 status. Likewise, spouses or children of students who enter on a F-2 visa will be granted F-2 status.

USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services. A U.S. governmental agency in charge of matters concerning immigration.

Visa: A visa is a document placed in you passport by the U.S. that allows you to enter the country. Visas cannot be issued from within the U.S.

Work Authorization: If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document to prove you may work in the U.S.

*The above definitions have been adapted from the U.S. Department of State. For full definitions please visit:

Academic Terminology

Adding/ Dropping a Course: Adding a course means to register for the course. Dropping a course means to no longer be registered for the course. Students are responsible for adding and dropping courses. Simply not attending class does not constitute dropping the course. Be advised, dropping a course could cause you to be in violation of status. See Maintaining Status: Full Course Load.

Admission Requirement: Academic qualifications necessary to entering a program of study.

Audit: To take a class to gain knowledge about a subject without receiving credit toward a degree program.

Enrollment Verification: A letter issued by the Registrar's Office that verifies your enrollment for the current quarter.

Financial Aid: Monetary support supplied by a source other than family to help pay for educational costs. Financial aid may be need-based (awarded based on financial need) or merit-based (awarded for special talents or achievements.

Full Course Load: A full course load is the minimum units per quarter required for maintaining student status. Contact you academic advisor for the requirements for your degree program. 

Grade Point Average (GPA): A number calculated by converting letter grades (A, B, C, D and F) into points to determine your numerical average.

Quarter System: Fuller operates on a quarter system. Each academic year contains four quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) with each quarter spaning a duration of 10 weeks in length.

Semester System: Fuller does not go by the semester system but there are many schools that do. On the semester system, each academic year consists of 2 semesters (Fall and Spring) with each semester spaning approximately 15 weeks in length.

Semester Unit to Quarter Unit Conversion: At Fuller, every 1 semester unit is counted as 1.5 quarter units. Please see your academic advisor about transfer units.

Syllabus: An outline of topics to be covered in a course for the duration of the quarter.

Transcript: A document that evidences the student's academic record. It lists all courses and grades in a student's academic history. 

Work-Study: A financial aid program funded by the U.S. federal government that allows students to work part-time on campus or with approved off-campus employers. International students are not eligible for work-study positions.