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Identification document issued by one’s country of citizenship that certifies an individual’s legal identity and nationality.

  • At the time of entering the U.S., passport should be valid six months beyond the intended period of stay in the U.S. (exceptions)
  • Must remain valid at all times while in the U.S.
  • May be renewed at your country’s embassy/consulate in the U.S.

I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status

Legal document issued by a U.S. school through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SEVIS database. It documents acceptance in a full course of study at the institution and proof of sufficient funds for the program.

  • Used to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad.
  • Must be presented at the U.S. port of entry every time one seeks to enter the U.S in F-1 status.
  • It is valid only for the period of time specified on the form and only for the academic program at the school indicated on the I-20.
    • Your program end date is estimated and must be updated if you complete the program earlier or require an extension.
      • Program extensions require documentation of a valid academic circumstance and financial support and must be submitted prior to the I-20 end date.
  • All changes in information on the I-20 must be reported to ISSS within 10 days of the change. ISSS will issue a new document if necessary.
  • Retain a file of all I-20s that are issued to you as they are required to document maintenance of status and may be requested for future benefit applications.

I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt

Payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee is documented with the Form I-797C Notice of Action. You must print the receipt at the time of payment and bring it with you to your visa appointment and when you seek to enter the U.S.


The entry visa is a sticker with your photo and biographical information that is placed in your passport by a U.S. embassy abroad. It permits the individual to request permission to enter the U.S. in a particular immigration status for a specific purpose (e.g., F-1 visa, to pursue study) at a U.S. port of entry.

  • May expire in the U.S. as long as all of other immigration documents are valid and up-to-date
  • Can only be renewed at a U.S. embassy/consulate outside the U.S.
  • Must have a valid visa to enter the U.S. (exception: Automatic Visa Revalidation)
  • Visa validity does not necessarily reflect the duration of one’s status in the U.S.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers create an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to document the admission of international visitors at the U.S port of entry, or in some instances a Pre-Clearance location abroad.

The arrival record indicates a visitor’s basic demographic information; entry port and date; class of admission (e.g., F1), and Admit Until Date (D/S: Duration of Status for F-1 student programs).

  • Review your I-94 arrival record every time your re-enter the U.S. to confirm that your entry was recorded properly as Customs and Border Protection sometimes makes mistakes that require correction.

Duration of Status (D/S)

Your visa expiration date does not determine your permitted length of stay in the United States. Your I-94 arrival record will indicate the date by which you must depart the U.S. As an F-1 student, you will most likely be admitted for duration of status (D/S) which means you may remain in the U.S. for the duration of your program as indicated on your I-20 as long as you are maintaining your nonimmigrant student status.

  • For F-1 students in valid status, permission to stay in the U.S. ends 60 days from the day you complete the last degree requirement or OPT unless you are beginning a new program or changing status.