A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Visa Information for International Students

One of the primary concerns of the Intercultural Student Programs Office is overseeing the visa process for all international students. Follow the links below to find important information about getting and maintaining your student visa, as well as other valuable details on immigration and visa extensions. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Designated School Official (DSO).

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Important Visa Terminology:

  • F-1 - The official immigration status given by the US government to almost all international students at Houghton.
  • I-20 - The 3-page document issued to an individual by Houghton College showing the U.S. government that the student is approved to study at an approved institution in the U.S. 
  • I-94 - The official entry record for all aliens entering through US immigration. Beginning in 2013, this document became electronic.
  • U.S. Visa - The visa that is stamped into the passport of all international students (except Canadians) upon interviewing at a US Embassy. This is the official document granting students permission to enter the US.
  • Designated School Official (DSO) - An individual approved by SEVIS who has permission to issue, manage, sign and edit student I-20's for their school. The DSO should be the student's primary point of contact on all issues related to their visa and immigration status.
  • Students and Exchange Visitor Information Services (SEVIS) or Program (SEVP) - The government organization that approves, monitors, and regulates student visas.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - The department that oversees SEVIS and contains detailed information on regulations affecting F-1 students.
  • United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) - Their website contains some basic information on F-1 student regulations, as well as various immigration forms. USCIS overseas any changes to visa status, as well as employment matters with F-1 students.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - The branch of the government tasked with dealing with immigration and visas, among other things. Both USCIS and ICE are departments under the DHS.
  • Program End Date - The date that a student officially finishes their academic program at Houghton College. Normally this is the student's graduation date unless the student is taking a Mayterm class after graduation.
  • OPT Employment - An extension to an F-1 student visa which allows the student to work full-time either before or after graduation. See the page on OPT Extension for more information.
  • CPT Employment - A special authorization which allows the student to work full or part time for academic credit during their studies at Houghton. See the page on CPT Employment for more information.