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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.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

An agency within the Department of Homeland Security that authorizes benefits for students and exchange visitors. Students can request benefits such as employment, extending their stay, or changing status from USCIS.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

A Department of Homeland Security agency that secures the borders of the United States, including airports, land borders and seaports. When entering the country, F and M students go through inspections with CBP officers and must present proper documentation.

U.S. Department of Education

A federal agency that establishes the legislation, policies and guidance for educational institutions in the United States, primarily colleges, universities and post-secondary institutions.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

A federal agency whose missions include preventing terrorism and enhancing security, managing U.S. borders, administering immigration laws, securing cyberspace, and ensuring disaster resilience. Through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, DHS secures the student visa system.

U.S. Department of State

A federal agency that issues visas at U.S. consulates and embassies, and offers student-specific information on its websites. The U.S. Department of State also manages the J visa programs within the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency that promotes homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration. Through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, ICE helps secure the foreign student visa system.

Updates to Form I-17

Changes that designated school officials at Student and Exchange Visitor Program‑certified schools must make if the school’s Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Students,” does not match the school’s current operating status.


An online, account-based system from USCIS students can use to view their benefit requests, receive electronic notification of decisions, and receive real-time case status updates.