Glossary of International Terms

The following list of terms is for reference purposes only. These terms do not necessarily appear in the International Application but rather provide some general information about international citizenship, admissions, and related forms.

Admission Number or I-94 Number

An 11-digit number found on the Form I-94 or Form I-94A Arrival-Departure Record.


An individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national. For Income tax purposes, aliens are classified as Residents or Nonresidents.

Alien Registration Number or Alien Number(A Number or A#)

A unique seven-, eight- or nine-digit number assigned to a noncitizen by the Department of Homeland Security. Also see "USCIS Number."

Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94/I-94A)

A small white card placed in the passport of an alien when they are admitted or paroled to the United States. This form is also issued to aliens in connection with the approval of an immigration benefit granted from within the United States. The card indicates parole or the immigration status under which the alien was admitted, and, if applicable, how long the alien is authorized to stay in the United States, either with a specific date, or with a notation such as D/S (Duration of Status). See also Duration of Status.

What is an I-94?

The I-94 is the Arrival / Departure Record, in either paper or electronic format, issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States.  After April 30, 2013, most Arrival/Departure records will be created electronically upon arrival.  Instead of a paper form, the visitor will be provided with an annotated stamp in the foreign passport.  If provided a paper form, the admitting CBP Officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor's passport and stamps the departure date on the form.  In both circumstances, an electronic I-94 or paper I-94, the visitor must exit the U.S. on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.

Bona fide Resident

A residence established in a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period which includes an entire year that extends into the current tax year.

Dual Status

Aliens who are both Residents and Nonresidents of the U.S. within the same tax year.

Exempt Individual

Aliens who, because of the terms of their visa status, are not considered to be “present in the United States.” For purposes of the Substantial Presence Test.

Form I-20:  Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status For Academic and Language School

A Department of Homeland Security-controlled document required to support an application for a student visa (F-1 or M-1) prepared by the sponsoring school which can only be produced through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Duration of Status (D/S)

Notation on certain nonimmigrant Forms I-94 indicating that the individual, such as an F-1 nonimmigrant student, is authorized to remain in the United States as long as he or she maintains a valid status.

Curricular Practical Training/OPT

A program that allows students to accept paid alternative work/study, internships, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum that employers offer through cooperative agreements with the school.

Exchange Visitor (J-1)

An alien admitted temporarily to the United States in J-1 status as a participant in a program approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training.

Exempt Status

A visa status that provides for a defined period of time in which the days an alien is physically present in the U.S. are not counted for purposes of the Substantial Presence Test.

Expatriation Tax

An additional tax that may apply to US citizens who have renounced their citizenship and long-term residents who have ended their US resident status for federal tax purposes. Different rules apply according to the date upon which you expatriated.

Foreign Students

F-1 Nonimmigrant Student

A student in F-1 nonimmigrant status (Academic Student) is an alien who has been admitted to the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The student must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and the school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students; OR

M-1 Nonimmigrant Student

An individual in M-1 nonimmigrant status (Vocational Student) is an alien who has been admitted to the United States to participate in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.

Green Card

An alien registration card issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) giving an individual the privilege, according to the immigration to the immigration laws, of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant.


An alien who has been granted the right to reside permanently in the United States and work without restrictions. Also known as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they are eventually issued a “green card”.

Lawful Permanent Resident

Any person not a citizen of the United States who is residing the in the U.S. under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. Also known as "Permanent Resident Alien," "Resident Alien Permit Holder," and "Green Card Holder."


An alien who is admitted to the United States for a specific temporary period of time. There are clear conditions on their stay. There are a large variety of nonimmigrant categories, each exists for a specific purpose and has specific terms and conditions. Nonimmigrant classifications include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers and some others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

Nonimmigrant Visas

Allows a nonimmigrant to enter the United States in one of several different categories, which correspond to the reason the nonimmigrant was allowed to enter the United States.

Nonresident Alien

An alien who is temporarily residing in the U.S., a resident alien who has abandoned permanent residence in the U.S. or an alien who has never been in the U.S.


An official government document that certifies one’s identity and citizenship and permits a citizen to travel abroad.

Principal Designated School Official (PDSO)

An individual designated by the head of an SEVP-approved school to have primary responsibility for students in that program and maintaining SEVIS records.

Resident Alien

Aliens admitted to the U.S. under permanent immigration visas are generally resident aliens and meet the substantial presence test or lawful permanent residency test. (Green Card Test) 21 General Summary of U.S. Immigration Terms


Generally, any person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear must be based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Social Security Number (SSN)

A nine-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration to U.S. Citizens and aliens permitted to work in the U.S.

SEVIS ID number

Unique identifier printed on each Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 in the top right corner, which consists of an alpha character (N) and up to 11 numbers (e.g., N0002123457).

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

A Department of Homeland Security database developed to collect information on the F, M and J visa holders.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

A government program that collects, maintains and provides information that allows legitimate foreign students or exchange visitors to gain entry into the United States. SEVP uses Web-based technology, known as the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), to track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents throughout the duration of approved participation within the U.S. education system.

Substantial Presence Test

A rule applied in determining if an alien is a U.S. Resident for tax purposes. Generally, an individual meets the substantial presence test if the individual was in the United States for at least 31 days during the current calendar year and was present in the United States for at least 183 days during the current year and the two preceding calendar years. (Note: For purposes of the substantial presence test, an individual does not count days of temporary presence in the United States under certain visas.)

Taxpayer Identification Number

A unique number used by individuals and other tax entities to file tax forms with the IRS. Individual

Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

A tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9. ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit. NOTE: ITINs issued after December 31, 2012 will expire after 5 years from the date when it is issued. At the end of the expiration period, you must reapply for a number.

Temporary protected status (TPS)

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country: ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war); an environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane); or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Grants of TPS are initially made for periods of six to 18 months and may be extended.

Treaty Benefits

Provisions of a tax treaty that allow for various items of tax relief or responsibility not provided for under general tax laws.

U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services

A federal agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Its functions include, but are not limited to, granting employment authorization to eligible aliens, issuing documentation of alien employment authorization, maintaining Form I-9, and administering the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.

USCIS Number

A unique, 9-digit number assigned to a noncitizen by the Department of Homeland Security that is listed on the front of Permanent Resident Cards (Form I-551) issued after May 10, 2010. See also Alien Registration Number or Alien Number.

U.S. Citizen

An individual born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, or an individual whose parent is a U.S. citizen, or a former alien who has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

U.S. National

An individual who, although not a U.S. citizen, owes his/her allegiance to the United States. U.S. nationals include individuals born in American Samoa or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.