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Director of International Education
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Embassies and Consulates | Glossary | Taxes

Below are listed a variety of resources to guide your stay in the United States and to inform you of the various requirements you may face. Remember, if you have questions, stop by the Office of International Education for further clarification.

The following links should be helpful for you while you are studying in the United States:

Student and Exchange Visitor
Immigration forms and fees
U.S. Department of State: visa information
U.S. Education Guides
U.S.A. Study Guide: International Student Scholarship
International Student Exchange and Study Abroad Resource Center
International Education Financial Aid

U.S. Embassies and Foreign Consulates

U.S. embassies and consulates overseas 

Foreign consulates in the U.S.
The OIE recommends that students keep in contact with the consulate of their home country. Some countries require their citizens to register at the local consulate while overseas, while others only recommend it. The OIE encourages you to maintain contact with your consulate and familiarize yourself with their services and programs.

Glossary: Immigration Terminology

Immigration regulations can often appear very complicated, involving unfamiliar terms or concepts. To help you understand the essential rules and regulations which govern your status, the following glossary of terms may be useful.

Completion Date: A student's completion date refers to the date the student completes the requirements for his or her degree program; i.e., it is the date the student finishes the last class, turns in a required thesis or dissertation, or otherwise meets the requirements for the degree. It is not the date of graduation, which may follow the completion date by weeks if not months. F-1 student have 60 days to remain in the U.S. beyond completion of studies to either prepare for departure or begin any authorized practical training.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The bureau within the Department of Homeland Security that includes the border patrol, customs service, and inspectors at the U.S. ports of entry.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS): The U.S. government department responsible for most areas of national security, including all areas related to foreign visitors in the U.S. Under its jurisdiction are three bureaus that handle the work previously done by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Foreign students come into contact with DHS at the ports of entry to the United States, through the SEVIS database, and when applying for nonimmigrant benefits, e.g., employment authorization.

Designated School Official (DSO): A Designated School Official (DSO) is an employee or agent of an educational institution who has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to verify information about and certify documents for F-1 students.

D/S: An abbreviation used by DHS for "Duration of Status." F-1 students are admitted to the United States for as long as they are full-time students complying with all pertinent regulations. It is not indefinite, however; the period of time reflected on the I-20 in section five or the DS-2019 in section three determines the maximum length of the individual's stay and remains conditional upon the pursuit of full-time study.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD): The laminated card issued by the DHS as proof of valid employment authorization for F-1 students. The EAD indicates the begin and end dates of employment and the type of work permission authorized.

F-1: Most international students at FSU are under this immigration classification, which means they have been admitted to the U.S. for the purpose of full-time study, have demonstrated financial resources for the entire academic program, and have a permanent residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning.

F-2: The dependent spouse and unmarried minor children of an F-1 student have this immigration classification. F-2 dependents are not permitted to work in the United States under any circumstances. F-2 dependents are also prohibited from full-time study at the post-secondary level.

I-20: Formally known as the I-20 AB, this DHS document is issued by the OIE for individuals abroad to obtain an F-1 visa or to apply for or to maintain F-1 status if they are already in the U.S. The I-20 contains a unique identification number, which is for the student's record in the SEVIS database. The I-20 serves as a primary record of a student's immigration-related actions, such as program extensions and transfers. A student should keep all I-20s ever issued to compile a comprehensive history of F-1 status.

I-94: The small white card also known as the arrival/departure record. It is issued to the student at the port of entry by a DHS officer and removed from the passport when the student leaves the U.S. It is a very important document that verifies a nonimmigrant's legal entry to the U.S., including the date of arrival, the classification of the individual, and the time allowed to remain in the United States. It is the I-94 and not the visa stamp that controls how long someone may remain in the U.S. legally.

I-539 : The I-539 is the application for a change of status within the United States. It is also used to regain legal F-1 status in certain situations, in connection with an application known as reinstatement.

I-765 : The I-765 is an application for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (see above).

Immigrant: An immigrant is a foreign national who intends to establish a permanent residence in the United States. Permanent residency is granted when an immigrant visa is issued or a foreign national undergoes a successful "adjustment of status" application.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): The bureau within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for the SEVIS database, and intelligence and investigations related to nonimmigrants in the U.S.

INS: The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service was responsible for enforcing the regulations that apply to non-citizens within the United States. These duties now fall under the Department of Homeland Security.

Nonimmigrant : A nonimmigrant is a person who is in the United States temporarily to pursue a specific activity or purpose (e.g., study, travel, business). Most nonimmigrants, including all F-1 students and their dependents, must have an established residence abroad to which they intend to return. There are over fifty classifications of nonimmigrants, each defined according to the primary purpose of stay in the U.S.

Passport: The passport is a formal permit to travel abroad and return to the issuing country. With few exceptions, it is issued by one's country of citizenship. All individuals in F status are required to have a valid passport at all times. It is your responsibility to extend or replace your passport when it expires. Information on renewing your passport is available from your country's consulate in New York City, Boston or embassy in Washington, D.C.

Status: Upon entry to the United States, all individuals are classified based on the documents and reasons they present at the port of entry. Most international students at FSU are in F-1 status. Individuals who do not comply with the regulations governing a given classification are "out of status" and therefore ineligible for certain "benefits" such as employment.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): The bureau within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for adjudication of applications for benefits filed by nonimmigrants.

Visa: The stamp in a passport serves as an application to enter a given country, in this case the U.S. Visa stamps can only be obtained overseas at U.S. consulates and embassies. The visa does not indicate how long someone can remain in the U.S.


International students and scholars are often surprised to learn they have tax filing obligations while they are present in the United States — even if they did not work in the prior year. Tax filing does not necessarily mean that taxes must be paid. Tax filing is a legal requirement. Please note: The OIE cannot advise on tax issues. Keep copies of all tax forms you file each year.

All those who are in F-1 and F-2 status must file tax forms with the U.S. government, even if they did not work in the United States. Even an F-2 dependent, who is never allowed to work in the U.S., must still file a tax form.

In some cases an individual in F-1 status will receive a refund. And in some cases, an individual in F-1 status will have to pay more taxes to the U.S. government.

The first concepts to understand are: resident vs. non-resident alien (for tax purposes) and Substantial Presence Test (SPT). Whether you are considered a resident or non-resident for tax purposes will determine what tax forms you file with the U.S. government. Those who have F status but are resident tax aliens should seek information and advice from tax professionals such as those who advise U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents (Green card holders).

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