ISS uses a variety of terms related to student’s immigration status. This page helps explain these terms to enhance students’ understanding. In addition, there are several documents that are extremely important to you during your stay as a non-immigrant visa-holder in the U.S. that is defined below.

Not seeing a term on this page? Please visit Study in the State's Glossary page.

General Terms 

ARO (Alternate Responsible Officer)

Individuals who have been appointed by an exchange visitor program sponsor (typically J-1 students) and authorized by DOS to perform certain duties such as preparing and signing DS-2019 forms. 

DSO (Designated School Official)

A member of the school administration designated by the head of a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school to provide recommendations to F and/or M students enrolled at the school. Their roles include the maintenance of nonimmigrant status, supporting timely and complete record keeping and reporting to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Form I-515A

An I-515A may be issued at the Port of Entry and gives permission to remain in the U.S. for a very limited amount of time.  If given an I-515A, you should report to the ISS Office immediately upon arrival to complete required paperwork within 30 days of the entry date.

I-94 Arrival & Departure Record

A record issued by a USCIS inspector at the port of entry. In most cases, this document is electronic, so you will not receive a physical copy of it. The I-94 contains your 11 digit immigration Admission Number which tells you how long you may remain in the United States.


Passports are official government documents granting permission to travel to and from your home country. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at all times during your stay in the U.S.  For passport renewal, contact your country’s consulate or embassy. Copies of your passport should always be on file in the ISS Office.

SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) 

SEVP is a department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that supports F-1 and J-1 students attending colleges and universities in the U.S.

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) 

SEVIS is the database that holds information about students on F-1 and J-1 visas.  

SSN (Social Security Number)

A SSN is a unique nine-digit identification number issued by the U.S. government. It's primarily used for tracking earnings and benefits and is crucial for employment, as it's required by employers to report wages and taxes for employees. Upon successful application and approval for an SSN, individuals will receive a card by mail containing their unique SSN. It's important to sign and securely store the card upon receipt.

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) 

An agency within the Department of Homeland Security which processes immigration requests such as employment authorization for F-1 students along with change of status applications.  

Terms Specific to F-1 Visa Holders 

Active Status 

This refers to a student’s SEVIS record. A student’s record is activated and thus becomes active when they travel to the United States and complete their initial immigration check in. 

Change of Level 

An F-1 student who graduates from an undergraduate degree or a master’s degree at JU may apply for a change of level to begin their next program at a higher level at JU.  

Continued Attendance I-20 

A Continued Attendance I-20 is given to students who are in active F-1 status. Students receive these updated I-20s after an immigration request such as reduced course load or curricular practical training (CPT) have been processed. 

EAD (Employment Authorization Form)

At the conclusion of a degree program, eligible students in F-1 visa status may apply for an employment authorization card (EAD) in their degree field valid for up to one year. This authorization is called Optional Practical Training (OPT).

F-1 Visa 

The F-1 visa is the most common non-immigrant student visa category in the U.S. It is the multi-colored stamp entered on a page of your passport at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  The visa is used to authorize your entry into the U.S. for a certain number of entries until it expires. Copies of your visa should always be on file in the ISS Office.

Form I-20

The document which you received from Jacksonville University and used to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.  It is a complete record of your activity at school and may contain records of school transfer, permission to work, change of major, addition of major, etc. Copies of all your I-20 should always be on file in the ISS Office.

Initial Status 

Students with new initial I-20s to study at JU are in initial status. Initial status may apply to students who are new to the university or current students who must travel and re-enter the U.S. to regain status.  

RCL (Reduced Course Load) 

In order for students to study less than full-time, they must apply for a reduced course load that ISS will process. 


F-1 students who request a leave of absence or who fail to maintain status will have their SEVIS records terminated for a variety of reasons. 

Transfer Pending I-20 

Students who transfer to JU from another institution will receive a transfer pending I-20. ISS will need to create a transfer completed I-20 after students’ records are activated in their first semester of study. 

Terms Specific to J-1 Visa Holders 

J-1 Visa 

The J-1 visa is sponsored by the Department of State. It is a non-immigrant visa category which engages in cultural exchange in the U.S. It is the multi-colored stamp entered on a page of your passport at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  The visa is used to authorize your entry into the U.S. for a certain number of entries until it expires. Copies of your visa should always be on file in the ISS Office.


Validation is a process in SEVIS for J-1 students when they first begin their programs at JU.