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F-1 Student Visa Terminology

Use this guide to help you understand the terms that come along with the process of obtaining your F-1 student visa for your time at Wheaton College.


This is the acronym for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an electronic recordkeeping and reporting system. Wheaton College must report information concerning F-1 students to the government through this system within established time frames each semester. This information includes student directory information, as well as national citizenship, program of study, start and end dates, and other notes about work and academics.


The  SEVIS fee is separate from, and in addition to, the visa application fee. This fee is US $200 for F-1 students. Make sure to keep the original receipt as it is a document that you might be asked to provide when you are applying for your visa and when traveling.

Designated School Official (DSO)

The DSO is a regular employee of the university (faculty or staff member), appointed by the school who represents the school in all F-1 matters. Only a DSO can sign your immigration documents for the school.


If you are in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, this is the document issued to you by our office which you will use to obtain a visa and enter the U.S. This document is extremely important, and should be on your person at all times when  traveling into the United States and to government offices within the U.S. It must be updated if there is an address, major, or other change during your time at Wheaton College. The DSO signature on Page 3 of the I-20 is valid for one year.

F-1 Visa

Student visa issued to a person coming to the United States for full-time studies. Most international students at Wheaton are in F-1 status. Students in F-1 status are, generally speaking, full-time, degree-seeking students who must abide by all regulations and procedures required to maintain this status. These regulations and procedures will be gone over in greater detail upon your arrival to campus.


The I-94 is a form that records the arrival and departure of foreign visitors, and is used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Form I-94 is completed at the time of entry into the United States by US Border officials for visitors with a nonimmigrant visa. This process is now done electronically.

After you arrive to your destination within the States you can access it at this website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. Our office will ask you to print out a copy of your I-94 for your files in our office. It is good practice to print out an updated form as soon as possible upon arrival and store with your other immigration documents.