International Student Services

Glossary of ISS Terms

ISS uses a variety of terms related to student’s immigration status. This page helps explain these terms to enhance students’ understanding.

General Terms

SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)
SEVP is a department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that supports F-1 and J-1 students attending colleges and universities in the U.S.
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
SEVIS is the database that holds information about students on F-1 and J-1 visas.
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
An agency within the Department of Homeland Security which processes immigration requests such as employment authorization for F-1 students along with change of status applications.

Terms Specific to F-1 Visa Holders

F-1 Visa
The F-1 visa is the most common non-immigrant student visa category in the U.S.
Active Status
This refers to a student’s SEVIS record. A student’s record is activated and thus becomes active when they travel to the United States and complete their initial immigration check in.
Change of Level
An F-1 student who graduates from an undergraduate degree or a master’s degree at UW may apply for a change of level to begin their next program at a higher level at UW.
Continued Attendance I-20
A Continued Attendance I-20 is given to students who are in active F-1 status. Students receive these I-20s after an immigration request such as reduced course load or curricular practical training have been processed.
Initial Status
Students with new initial I-20s to study at UW are in initial status. Initial status may apply to students who are new to the university, current students who must travel and re-enter the U.S. to regain status, and students returning from a Leave of Absence.
Leave of Absence
To ISS advisors, a leave of absence is an immigration term regarding a student’s plans to study in the U.S. When students request a leave of absence, they must leave the U.S. and ISS terminates their immigration record.
Students who take a leave of absence from ISS for less than five months may be eligible for a SEVIS Reactivation. Advisors request SEVP to reactivate the students terminated I-20 to return to the U.S.
RCL (Reduced Course Load)
In order for students to study less than full-time, they must apply for a reduced course load that ISS advisors will process.
F-1 students who request a leave of absence or who fail to maintain status will have their SEVIS records terminated for a variety of reasons.
Transfer Pending I-20
Students to transfer to UW from another institution will receive a transfer pending I-20. ISS will need to create a transfer completed I-20 after students’ records are activated in their first quarter of study.

Terms Specific to J-1 Visa Holders

J-1 Visa
The J-1 visa is sponsored by the Department of State. It is a non-immigrant visa category which engages in cultural exchange in the U.S.
This is a term we use for J-1 students when we make their DS-2019s. We do this when students transfer to UW from another program OR when students complete one program of study (i.e. bachelors) and begin a higher level of study (i.e. masters).
Validation is a process in SEVIS for J-1 students when they first begin their programs at UW.