Immigration Terminology

INA – Immigration and Nationality Act

CFR – Code of Federal Regulations. Regulations implementing laws passed by Congress

DHS – Department of Homeland Security
(March 1, 2003). Department has jurisdiction over immigration services as well as other functions. BCIS, BICE, and BCBP are part of DHS

BCIS – Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
All Service Centers and District Offices which are responsible for most immigration adjudications fall under BCIS.

BICE – Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
BICE is responsible for Immigration investigations, detention, removal, intelligence and SEVIS.

BCBP – Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
BCBP is responsible for Immigration inspections (POEs), Border Patrol and Customs Service.

OI – Operating Instructions
Instructions for federal employees to apply regulations

DOS – Department of State

PDSO – Principal Designated School Official

DSO – Designated School Official

I-20 – Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Students.
Electronically generated form that replaces the paper Form I-20A-B

EAD – Employment Authorization Document

RTI – Real Time Interactive

SEVIS-web-based application for use in issuing an individual I-20 and updating a student’s record.

Batch Processing – Electronic submission of records to SEVIS instead of RTI. Useful for submission of large numbers records.

ICD – Interface Control Document
Provides the documentation required for batch processing.

I-94 – I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

SEVIS – Student Exchange Visitor Information System

SEVP – Student Exchange Visitor Program

Special Registration (NSEERS) – National Security Entry-Exit Registration System
Fingerprinting, photographing, and interviewing of citizens and nationals of designated countries who are required to register with BCIS. Rules pertaining to Special Registration are available on the DHS website.

Cip Codes – Classification of Instructional Programs
Accepted federal government statistical standard on instructional program classifications. SEVIS requires the 2000 CIP codes available at :

D/S – Duration of Status
Period of authorized stay granted to an F-1 student while pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution approved by the federal government for attendance by foreign students; D/S also extends to a student engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies and/or intending to transfer to another school.

Grace Period – Period of time a student is given to depart the United States after completing or withdrawing from a program of study.

Distance Education – Delivery of instruction that does not require a student to be physically present in the classroom. This might include correspondence, course, web-based instruction, etc.

Border Commuter Student – A national of Canada or Mexico admitted to the United States as an F-1 non-immigrant student to enroll in a full course of study, albeit on a part time basis, in an approved school located within 75 miles of a United States land border. A border commuter student must return to his/her home each day and seek admission to the United States at a land border port-of-entry.

Status – An individual’s legal status in the United States

Visa – The stamp in the passport that permits an alien to apply at the port of entry for admission into the United States.

P.O.E. – Port-of-Entry
Entry point into the United States where individuals are inspected by an immigration officer upon arrival to the U.S., whether by air, land, or sea.