International Student Affairs

Helpful Definitions

College Knowledge for International Students

Visit the general College Knowledge page for more information on campus resources and important terms used at Hofstra University. The definitions below are especially helpful for international students to know as you navigate the Hofstra website and adjust to college life in the U.S.

Definitions for Common Acronyms

CBP: Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for U.S. border management and control, including overseeing customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection.
CPT: Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off campus work authorization option available to eligible F-1 students who have completed at least one academic year of study in the U.S. According to immigration regulations, the practical experience may be an internship, externship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or any other work-related experience that is related to your field of study and either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalog) or for which academic credit is awarded. F-1 students are not allowed to work (paid or unpaid) off campus without proper work authorization such as CPT or OPT.
DHS: Department of Homeland Security
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s mission is to protect the United States from national security threats and oversee immigration into the country. DHS includes many agencies whose activities range from border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity to chemical facility inspection.
DOS: Department of State
The U.S. Department of State works to fight terrorism, protect U.S. interests abroad, and implement foreign policy initiatives. The Department of State manages Exchange Visitor Programs, nonimmigrant exchange visitors in the J visa classification and their dependents.
EAD: Employment Authorization Document
The Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766/EAD) proves that you are authorized to work in the United States for a specific time period. F-1 students will receive an EAD if you apply and are approved for Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s law enforcement agency. ICE’s mission is to mitigate transnational threats and ensure lawful immigration, trade, travel, and financial systems.
IRS: Internal Revenue Service
The IRS is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury and responsible for U.S. tax administration. The IRS helps taxpayers understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforces the U.S. tax laws.
ISA: International Student Affairs
The International Student Affairs office at Hofstra provides immigration services and advising to support international students and scholars who hold an F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant visa.
OPT: Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of off campus work authorization available for eligible F-1 students who have completed at least one academic year of study in the U.S. It allows students to gain work experience in an off-campus job related to their field of study. There are two types of OPT: Pre-Completion OPT (used before graduation during your program) and Post-Completion OPT (for after graduation or after finishing all coursework). F-1 students are not allowed to work (paid or unpaid) off campus without proper work authorization such as CPT or OPT.
RCL: Reduced Course Load
International Student Affairs can authorize a Reduced Course Load (RCL) to allow an F-1 international student to drop below a full time course of study if they meet the RCL eligibility criteria. Full time study is typically required for F-1 and J-1 international students to maintain student immigration status. Hofstra defines full time study as at least 12 credits per semester for undergraduates and Juris Doctor (JD) Law students, and at least 9 credits per semester for graduates and Master of Laws (LLM) students.
SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
SEVIS is an internet-based government system used by schools and the U.S. government to collect, track and monitor information about international students in the U.S.
SEVP: Student and Exchange Visitor Program
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the U.S. National Security Investigations Division within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and acts as a resource 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 Department of Homeland Security (DHS), SEVP manages schools, nonimmigrant students in the F and M visa classifications and their dependents.
SSA: Social Security Administration
The U.S. Social Security Administration issues the Social Security Number and provides financial protection through the administration of Social Security benefits to people including retirees, children, widows, and widowers.
SSN: Social Security Number
The Social Security Number enables U.S. government agencies to identify individuals in their records and businesses to track an individual's financial information. For international students, the SSN will only be issued if a student is maintaining their student status, is eligible to work, and has secured employment in the U.S. The SSN is a unique number and an individual should not have more than one SSN. Once issued, the SSN is your number forever and may be used on future visits to the U.S.
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
Science, technology, engineering, and math (including computer science) are areas of study collectively known as STEM.
USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
USCIS is the U.S. government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States and processes applications for changes of status or immigration benefits like OPT work authorization.
UW: Unofficial Withdrawal
The UW grade may be assigned only if the student stopped attending prior to the official withdrawal deadline, and, in the judgment of the faculty member, on the last date of attendance, the student either had the potential to pass the course or there was insufficient graded work to allow for such an evaluation. UW is always the appropriate grade for a student who is registered for a course but has never attended. Receiving a UW grade means the student has in effect never attempted the credits associated with that course, reducing the attempted total credits for that semester. This may affect an international student’s immigration status if the reduction would bring them below full-time credits.