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

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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 Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Web-based service that helps some agencies determine the immigration status of benefit applicants.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

Science, technology, engineering, and math programs, which are important to innovation and job creation in the United States.

Secondary Inspection

If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at primary inspection at a port of entry cannot verify a student’s information, or if they do not have all of the required documentation, a CBP officer may direct them to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays for other arriving passengers.


An internet-based application that facilitates timely electronic reporting and monitoring of international students and exchange visitors, as well as their dependents, in the United States. This application enables schools and program sponsors to transmit electronic information to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State throughout a student's or exchange visitor's program in the United States.

Site visit

A step during the Student and Exchange Visitor Program certification process where an inspector will tour the school’s facilities, interview designated school officials, and review records systems.

Social Security number

A nine-digit number assigned by the Social Security Administration to approved F and M students that are eligible to apply for employment in the United States.

STEM 17-Month Extension

F-1 graduates with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees designated as eligible by DHS may be eligible to work in the United States for an additional 17 months beyond the original 12-month limit of a period of optional practical training (OPT).

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

A part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students.

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, SEVP manages schools, nonimmigrant students in the F and M visa classifications and their dependents.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified Schools

The only schools that are officially authorized to enroll F and M students.