F-1 Students: General Immigration Information

Documents

Passport
The passport must be valid at least six months into the future. Report your lost or stolen passport to the police, as your home country government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. It is recommended that you keep a copy of your passport in a safe place. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S. at www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco.
 
Important Information
  • Passports must be valid at least six months into the future. 
  • I-20 must remain valid at all times during your program of study. 
  • Keep important documents in a safe place.   

F-1 Visa Stamp

The F-1 visa stamp placed in your passport by the U.S. consular officials indicates your eligibility to enter or re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. The expiration date on the visa is the last day you can use it to enter the U.S. Once you enter the U.S., the date does not matter. The visa may expire while you are in the U.S. You cannot and do not need to renew it while you in the U.S. If the original visa expires, a new entry visa is required for subsequent reentries to the U.S. following travel abroad.


Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility

The I-20 form is issued by the U.S. school you plan to attend and will allow you to: 
  1. Apply for an F-1 visa; 
  2. Enter or re-enter the U.S. in pursuit of your studies; and
  3. Receive specific immigration benefits.


Key I-20 Points

  • I-20 must remain valid throughout your course of study; 
  • Request a new I-20 30-days prior to the expiry date noted on item # 5 on page one of the I-20;
  • I-20 will list recent events such as, employment authorization;
  • Keep all I-20s that are issued during your course of study;
  • After a temporary absence abroad (not exceeding 5 months), you will need a travel signature on page 3 of the I-20 to re-enter the U.S. to resume your program of study. The International Student Advisor will assist you with this request.


I-94 Departure Record

The I-94 card along with a valid I-20 verifies your lawful/temporary admittance into the U.S as an F-1 student.  It is the white palm size card that must be completed prior to passing through U.S. customs. Once admitted the immigration official should indicate “F-1D/S” on the I-94. The D/S notation stands for “duration of status” and represents the length of time an F-1 student can remain in the U.S. temporarily to complete your program of study. With the exception of short visits 30-days or less to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands. Normally, a new I-94 card is issued each time you enter the U.S. Keep this and all other documents related to your immigration status in a safe place. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that designated school officials keep a copy of these documents in your student file. Be sure to provide a copy of your documents when you renew them.