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.

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.

Related terms: Recertification

Program End Date

The date listed on a student’s Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” when they or are expected to complete their program of study and must either transfer to another school, apply to change education level, apply to change to another nonimmigrant status or depart the United States within 60 days.

Related terms: Program Start Date

Program Start Date

​The date listed on a student’s Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” when they must enroll in an academic or vocational program of study. Students can enter the United States no more than 30 days before this date and need to contact their designated school official no later than this date to inform them they are in the country.

Related terms: Program End Date

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.

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.