Immigration and Visa

International Student Services

    Knowing your Immigration Terms and Documents

    Admission #

    This is the 11-digit number assigned to you by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (USCBP). It is the number on your I-94 which the USCBP writes on your I-20 and is your own unique number. This is the number that the Department of Homeland Security will use to identify you, or if they want to find information, they can check their database using this number, along with the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

    Designated School Official DSO

    DSOs verify enrollment, authorize employment, recommend employment authorization, and handle any issues regarding student status. DSOs can be known as "liaisons" between the students and the various agencies of the DHS.


    Department of Homeland Security is the government agency that has combined the functions of the Customs Bureau, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Coast Guard, Secret Service, among others, into one agency. Its main function is to protect the United States from terrorist activities and our national security.


     This stands for ‘duration of status’ and is described as the time that you may legally remain in the U.S. This is defined by law as the period during which you are pursuing a full course of study with a valid I-20 form, with any authorized periods of practical training, plus 60 days within which to depart from the U.S. upon completion.


    This form, also known as the "Certificate of Eligibility," is used to apply for your visa and enter the U.S. It contains personal information, as well as information on any family members whom you have brought with you as dependents to the U.S. Upon your initial entry to the U.S., the immigration inspector should have stamped the Page 1 of your SEVIS I-20 with the date of your entry. Your I-20 document is thus needed for re-entry to the U.S. in F-1 status. I-20 documents should always reflect your current information (i.e. major, names, level of studies, etc.).


      The "arrival and departure card" is the white card, usually stapled in your passport near your visa stamp. The purpose of this card is to show your arrivals and departures to and from the U.S. The I-94 card will be surrendered when you depart the U.S., and you will be given a new one upon your return. If you need to know your last entry into the U.S., the I-94 will have your entry date and the class you entered in (i.e. F-1) and your Admission number. Please keep this card in your passport, as it will be used for applications sent to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS).


     The passport is issued as a legal form of identification by your country of citizenship. This document will hold personal information, as well as verification that you are a citizen of the country issuing your passport. Your passport must be valid at all times, at least six (6) months in advance. International Student Services does not keep information for what is required to renew passports in various countries, since every country is different. If your passport is about to expire, you will need to contact your embassy to determine what documents and fees are needed. Your International Student Advisor will have a directory of all the Consulates in Hawai‘i, along with phone numbers and addresses of all others in the U.S.


    Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is a Web-based database shared by various government agencies and educational institutions. SEVIS will hold and transfer information electronically, thereby reducing the paper workload. SEVIS will not only benefit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but the students as well. Students will have less paper to handle and alerts and reminders will be sent to the universities to notify them of upcoming expiration dates on I-20s, lack of registration, completion dates, employment authorization end dates, etc.

    SEVIS ID #

    This is an 11-digit number that is assigned to any person entered into the SEVIS system. This unique ID number will be utilized to track any F, J, or M visa holders present in the U.S.


     The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has authority over all aliens entering, visiting, and residing in the U.S., including foreign students. 
    The Department of Homeland Security absorbed Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) from the U.S. Department of Justice and assumed its duties.  There are three agencies under DHS: enforcement – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE), services - Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS), and border protection – Customs and Border Protection (US CBP)


    The visa is a stamp placed inside your passport by a U.S. consulate. It is used primarily for entry use; therefore it does not need to be renewed while you are in the U.S. studying full-time. If however, you depart the U.S. with an expired visa, you will need to get a new visa before you will be able to re-enter. You can only apply for a new visa OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES. In most cases, when applying for a new visa, you will need a new I-20 to take to the consular.