Immigration Documents

Passport

  • Document issued by your government indicating your citizenship. Your passport must remain valid through your entire stay in the U.S. Passports can usually be renewed at your home country Embassy in the U.S. You can find out the contact information for your embassy by going to Embassy World

Visa

  • This stamp in your passport is what allows you entry into the U.S. It is not the same thing as an I-20.

  • The visa is the multi-colored or blue stamp entered on a page of your passport at a U.S Embassy or Consulate abroad.

  • It is used to allow you to enter the U.S. for a certain number of times (ranging from one to multiple - "M") until a particular date.

  • It does not show how long you can stay in the U.S

  • It can expire while you are in the US, but must be valid to enter the US!

  • To determine how long you can stay in the US, see the “program end date” on your I-20.

Renewing your U.S. visa for re-entry

  • It is not possible to renew an F-1 visa while you are in the U.S.

  • If the visa has expired and you are planning on traveling outside the North American continent, it is necessary to renew your visa.

  • You may renew your visa by visiting the U.S. Consulate in the country that you are traveling to.

  • The list of the US Embassies around the world.

It is best, however, to apply for a new F-1 visa in the student’s home country. Obtaining a new visa in a third country can be difficult, because the U.S. embassy performs a series of background checks on all visa applicants.

Student visas are issued in Canada and Mexico by appointment only. Appointments can be made with the U.S. embassies in Canada and Mexico.

I-94 Card

  • The card given to you on the airplane each time you enter the U.S. This is a small white card (also called an "Arrival/Departure Record") that indicates your "immigration status" and how long you may remain in the U.S.  ("D/S" indicates "duration of status" which means that you are admitted for the length of your program of study, plus any period of Optional Practical Training, plus 60 days).

  • The card is usually stapled in your passport by the Immigration Inspector at your port-of-entry into the U.S. I-94 card is one of the most important documents you have and should always be kept in your passport. Do not lose it! It is expensive and difficult to replace.

  • When the student leaves the U.S., the I-94 card is collected by the airlines or government official, except during travel to Canada, Mexico and the adjacent islands. A new I-94 form is issued to the student during re-entry to the U.S., unless the student is returning from Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands.

I-20 Certificate Of Eligibility

  • This form is issued by U.S. schools to international students who have been admitted to their academic program and who have presented evidence to the school of sufficient financial support to study in the U.S.

  • The I-20 is used to obtain the F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. The completion date noted is an estimate of the average length of time it takes to complete a specific degree. However, regardless of the I-20 completion date, once you have completed your degree, you have 60 days to leave the US, apply for another visa (or Optional Practical Training), or gain admission at another school authorized to issue I-20s.

  • If you graduate before the completion date indicated on your I-20 you are considered to have completed your program of study and your I-20 is no longer valid. The third page of the I-20 contains spaces for information about your employment authorization and travel signatures by a Designated School Official (DSO) / International Students Advisor at VSU.