US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States

View Disclaimer



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.


A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services web-based system that helps employers to determine whether their newly hired employees are authorized to work in the United States.


A Department of State-supported network with over 400 advising centers in 170 countries that provide students with information to help them select a school in the United States.


A Department of State office, usually located in a country’s capital city. F and M students visit embassies to apply for a visa to enter the United States.


Employment by starting and operating your own business. F-1 students are eligible for entrepreneurship as long as it relates to their program of study and they are approved for pre- or post-completion optional practical training.

Evidence of Financial Support

Proof that an individual seeking initial admission into the United States as an F-1 or M-1 student has the ability to finance their studies and meet living expenses in the United States.   

Exchange Visitor

A nonimmigrant in J-1 visa status. This classification is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs. All J-1 nonimmigrants must be sponsored by an organization that is designated by the Department of State.