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What's all this gibberish?

It's possible you may hear a conversation between international students in the U.S. without grasping anything meaningful out of it. For outsiders, this type of conversation may sound gibberish, especially when certain words are used. Though this list is not exhaustive, we, at Educational Connect, shortlisted 12 terms, which you may find helpful in making sense of all these talks.

DSO - The Designated Student Official is the certified individual who updates and maintains the SEVIS records of non-immigrant student. This individual is also the one authorized to sign the international student's I-20 for travel purposes.

EAD - Employment Authorization Document issued by USCIS, which grants work authorization for a specific period of time.

CPT- Curricular Practical Training is a pre-completion off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students, either paid/unpaid internships/employment directly related to a student's major field of study.

F-1 Student - The non-immigrant status granted to eligible students by USCIS pursuing academic studies and/or language training programs for a period of time in the U.S.

Financial Affidavit - An official document (bank statement) providing adequate funding from an individual or organization to cover the cost of an international students' educational and living expenses for at least the first year of enrollment in a U.S. institution. This document is needed before an I-20 can be issued out, and paramount to obtaining a student visa.

Form I-20 - A form issued to a student who has been admitted to a full-time program of study after providing evidence of the ability to finance his/her education and living costs. The I-20 is what keeps the international student in status, and as such, must remain valid if still in student status.

I-94 - The I-94 is issued to students and scholars upon their arrival in the United States by an Immigration officer. Also, known as the admission/departure record, the form was a white card stapled in the passport. It can now be checked online at

Non- Immigrant - An Individual with a permanent residence outside the United States, who currently resides in the U.S. on a temporary basis for purposes of work, study, etc...

OPT - Optional Practical Training is a work authorization available to F-1 students pre or post completion of their academic program. F-1 students in the non-stem field are limited to 12 months of OPT at each new and higher degree level.

SEVIS Id Number - The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System number is located on the top right hand corner of the I-20 which begins in "N", and is a unique identifier assigned to each student in the SEVIS system.

STEM - F-1 students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math related programs are currently the only ones currently eligible to apply for a 24-month extension beyond the end date of their approved period of post-completion OPT. To find out if your program of choice qualifies for this category, check

USCIS - The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a government agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security and is charged with the administration of immigration benefits and the adjudication of immigration petitions/applications such as the OPT.

We will like to hear from you! Which words have you already been exposed to? Comment below or send us an email at on your thoughts and suggestions.

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