Academic Training (AT) 

A type of off-campus work authorization for students in J-1 visa status. This may be used for certain types of study-related employment.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) 

A bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which was formally called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). It is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions, establishing immigration services policies and priorities, and all other adjudications performed by the INS.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

A type of off-campus work authorization for students in F-1 visa status. It allows a student to have a job that is an integral part of an established curriculum for which academic credit is awarded. The employment must be an important component of the student's academic program.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 

A division of the U.S. Government created to provide the unifying core for the vast national network of organizations and institutions involved in efforts to secure our nation.

Department of Labor (DOL)

 A division of the U.S. Government charged with administering and enforcing employment laws.

Department of State (DOS)

A division of the U.S. Government that is the leading foreign affairs agency. It oversees many different programs and services including visa application processes outside the country at U.S. Embassies and/or Consulates, the J Exchange Visitor Program, Peace Corps, etc.


A spouse and/or child under 21 years of age that can accompany the primary in a dependent visa status (i.e. F-2, J-2, H-4, O-3, or TD status).


"Duration of Status" or "Duration of Stay."  This notation on an I-94 card indicates that the visa status expires on the end date printed on the I-20 or the DS-2019 (see Grace Period).

Dual intent

The intention of a foreign alien to come to the U.S. temporarily, with the ability to pursue permanent residency if the opportunity presents itself.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) 

A document that gives a foreign alien permission to accept employment in the U.S. It also is called a work permit or referred to by the form number (i.e. I-766 or I-668).

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

An automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. It can be submitted any time prior to travel, is valid for two years for multiple entry, and collects the same information as the paper I-94W. No I-94W will be issued for any qualified traveler entering the US via air or sea.

Foreign National Clearance Expiration Notice (FNCEN)

sent by Visa Services electronically to department liaisons 6-7 months prior to program end date.

Form DS-2019

The Visa Document issued for foreign aliens in J visa status.

Form I-20

The Visa Document issued for foreign aliens in F visa status.

Form I-94

Arrival/Departure Record or Registration Document. This small white card (ESTA replaces the green card except for land border entry) is issued to foreign nationals upon entry into the U.S. and taken from them when they depart. It confirms their visa status. The officer will stamp the I-94 with the date and location of entry, will write in the visa classification (e.g. F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2), and will indicate the date by which the alien must leave the U.S.

Form I-668

A document that gives a foreign alien permission to accept employment in the U. S. Also called an Employment Authorization Document, an EAD, or a work permit.

Form I-766

A document that gives a foreign alien permission to accept employment in the U. S. Also called an Employment Authorization Document, an EAD, or a work permit.

Form I-797

The Visa Document for foreign aliens that grants H, O, or TN visa status, or that may verify an extension has been approved for a Change of Status application.

Grace Period

The additional time one legally may remain in the U.S. after the end date recorded on their visa document (e.g. I-20 or DS-2019). For persons in F status, the grace period is 60 days. For persons in J status, the grace period is 30 days. Persons in H and TN status have no grace period.

Lawful Status

Same as Visa Status.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR)

Immigration status held by someone with a "green card." These persons also are referred to as Resident Aliens.

Labor Condition Application (LCA)

The core document for filing an H-1B petition. It ensures that U.S. wages are not depressed by the hiring of foreign labor and that foreign workers are not exploited. In the form, the employer makes specific representations regarding the conditions under which the foreign worker was hired and will be employed.

Mandatory Leave Notice

Sent by Duke Visa Services to electronically to department liaisons two months before a program's end date. Reminder to insure all research/employment ends as of this date.

National Security Entry - Exit Registration System (NSEERS)

A DHS system that enables the government to keep track of non-immigrants from certain countries or who meet a combination of intelligence-based criteria and are identified as presenting an elevated national security concern. [NAFSA Adviser's Manual (2005 release)].

Non-immigrant intent

The intention of foreign aliens to come to the U.S. temporarily and then to return to their home countries. Often when applying for a visa stamp, students and scholars must prove sufficiently strong ties to their home counties to cause them to return to them after completing their education or research.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

A type of off-campus work authorization for students in F-1 visa status. Allows students to accept employment or receive training in their academic field of study.

Port of Entry (POE)

The port where a foreign national visitor first enters the U.S. and is admitted by an immigration office.


most often refers to professors, researchers, lecturers, specialists, professional staff, and similar persons in J-1 status who will be involved primarily in academic activities or otherwise employed at Duke, whether on compensatory or non-compensatory payroll.


Refers to a fully-admitted student or a student coming from his/her home school to do "study abroad" or similar short-term study in the U.S.


Student Exchange Visitor Information System – A DHS system that maintains and manages data about foreign students and exchange visitors during their stay in the United States.

Technology Alert List (TAL)

The TAL lists fields of study or expertise in which the U.S. wants to limit exports of certain technologies.


Test of English as a Foreign Language,

U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (U.S. - VISIT)

A DHS entry-exit system that collects biometric data to verify the visitor's identity and compliance with visa immigration policies.

Visa Document

A document indicates how long a foreign alien has permission to remain in the U.S., what activities he/she has permission to pursue, and where he/she has permission to pursue those activities. The visa document, alone, does not give a foreign alien permission to enter the U.S., but they must have a valid visa document in order to obtain and use a visa stamp. The most common visa documents on a university campus are the Form I-20, Form DS-2019, and the I-797.

Visa Screen

A credential verification required for certain health care workers to document that a foreign health care worker has met minimum requirements for training, licensure, and English proficiency in order to be able to fulfill their professional role. The evaluation is done by an organization recognized under immigration law to perform such credential evaluation and verification. Currently the only organization so recognized is the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), which is part of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). When the review and verification of the credentials is completed, they will issue a Healthcare Worker Certificate they call the VisaScreen.

Visa Stamp

A visa stamp in a foreign alien's passport to enable the individual to gain entrance into the U.S. in a certain visa status. The modern, machine-readable "stamp" is not a stamp at all, but a specially designed "foil" that is affixed to a page in the passport and carries identity and other information. Many people still use the term "stamp," but "visa foil" is becoming a frequently heard term. This entry stamp does not tell you how long the foreign alien has permission to stay in the U.S.; it simply tells them how many times and for how long they have permission to apply for entry into the U.S. in that particular visa category. The visa stamp must be valid only on the day an individual is physically entering the U.S. Once admitted, as long as a foreign alien continues to hold a valid visa document or otherwise maintains status, the visa stamp in the passport can expire without rendering the individual out of status.

Visa Status/Class/Category

The visa status or classification is the immigration category a foreign alien is granted when admitted to the U.S., and it is noted on the visa document and Form I-94. The visa status or classification determines the nature, location, and duration of the authorized activities, as well as the authorized length of stay in the U.S.