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Use the Study in the States glossary to define key terms throughout the F and M student process in the United States. If you are a current or prospective student, select “students” to see terms that specifically relate to you—from visas, to forms, benefits, and more. School officials should select “schools” to find more information on certification, responsibilities, and how to help their F and M students. You can also sort terms by selecting the letter of the alphabet a term begins with.


The process of petitioning the Student and Exchange Visitor Program to enroll F and M nonimmigrant students. Approved schools can issue these students Forms I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

Certification Expiration Date

The date two years from the date of a school’s previous Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification or recertification expiration date on which a school is required to file a completed petition for SEVP recertification.

Commission-Based Recruiter

A recruiter, broker, or agent who charges fees or receives a commission for such things as helping you obtain a student visa, housing, or other services. You do not need to use a recruiter in order to obtain a United States student visa.

Community College

A post-secondary, undergraduate educational institution offering lower-level (freshman and sophomore) classes. These schools gear their operations more toward commuting students and do not usually have on-campus living arrangements.


To follow all Department of Homeland Security regulations as a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school to enroll nonimmigrant students.


Department of State offices headed by a Consul General who reports to the U.S. ambassador, which carry out many of the same functions in provincial or regional capitals as the embassies do in national capitals. F and M students can visit a consulate to apply for their visa to enter the United States.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Training that an F-1 student participates in during a program of study; including alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum offered by a sponsoring employer through cooperative agreement with a school.