Glossary of Terms

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a paid off-campus internship/opportunity directly related to an F-1 student’s field of study. The purpose of CPT is not to facilitate employment authorization but to allow students to participate in training related to their field of study. This is usually an internship for credit or research for a thesis/dissertation.

Students are required to read the CPT Guide and Application Process and complete the CPT Request Form.

Typically, students on CPT will need to enroll in a credit-bearing course. This course must be approved by faculty members.


Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors (J-1 students, scholars, and their dependents). This document must be maintained and active throughout their time in the U.S.


The Designated School Official (DSO) is a staff member who is the liaison between the students and scholars and the Department of Homeland Security. DSOs are responsible for learning, interpreting, and applying laws and government policies pertaining to F-1 students, signing I-20’s, and creating and updating SEVIS records. At West Chester University, DSOs can be found in the Global Engagement Office (GEO). GEO should be your first contact for matters concerning international students and scholars on campus.

F visa status

A non-immigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at a U.S. academic institution that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security to offer courses of study and has been enrolled in SEVIS.

H-1B visa status

H-1B is a dual intent visa that allows a foreign national employee to work in a "specialty occupation" for a limited period of time. H-1B sponsorship through the prospective employer may be applied for either while in the U.S. or from abroad. H-1B visas last for no more than six years and are subject to a quota or 'cap' per fiscal year. The initial filing period for H-1B petitions begins on 01 April of each year, for employment beginning in 01 October of that year. Those on H-1b status are eligible to apply for Permanent Residency.


A government form used F-1 students and their dependents. This document must be maintained and active to be in legal status in the U.S. during the course of the F-1 student’s studies


The Department of Homeland Security issues a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record to international visitors who are (a) admitted to the U.S., (b) adjusting status while in the U.S., or (c) extending their stay.

The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. The Form I-94 is issued during the admission process at the port of entry.

Global Engagement Office (GEO)

GEO provides advising, immigration services, programming, advocacy, and outreach for the international student and scholar population at West Chester University.

J Visa status

There are many J-1 "categories," one of which is student and short-term researcher. All exchange students at the University are on J-1 visa status. The general purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. 50% or more funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds.

Non-Immigrant vs. Immigrant

A non-immigrant is someone who seeks temporary entry to the U.S. for a specific purpose. The non-immigrant must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and plan to return home. An immigrant is someone who enters the U.S. planning to remain permanently.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT provides off-campus work authorization either during their degree program or after for F-1 students. Most students participate in OPT once they complete their degree. Students typically receive one year of OPT, however STEM students are eligible for 2-year extension. Students must read and review the OPT Handbook, complete, and submit the forms to the GEO.


Responsible Officers are appointed by the exchange visitors’ (J visa) program sponsor to perform the duties set forth in regulations, signs DS-2019’s, creates and updates J-1 records in SEVIS. At West Chester University, ROs can be found in GEO and International Admissions. GEO should be your first contact for matters concerning international students and scholars on campus.


Student Exchange and Visitor Information System. Tracks information on F, J, and M visa holders. Immigration data is entered into this federally managed database. The University's DSOs manage student data as a representative of USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security.

Two Year Home Residency requirement aka 212(e)

The two-year home country physical presence requirement is one of the most important requirements of exchange visitor status. Some J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents are subject to the 212(e).


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency responsible for administering immigration benefits for eligible foreign nationals in the U.S.


A visa is a ‘ticket’ for entry to the country upon arrival. International students and scholars may be in the U.S. with an expired visa, but they may not return to the United States until they present a valid visa, valid passport, and I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed within the previous year.

Visa Application

Visa applications may be submitted to U.S. Consulates and Embassies up to 90 days before the program start date listed on the I-20/DS-2019 and students and scholars may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date.

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