As an F-1 visa student, there are four documents to maintain which govern your visit within the United States: Passport, F-1 visa, I-20 and I-94.
Your passport must remain valid during your entire stay in the United States. If your passport is due to expire during your approved visit, or is lost or stolen, contact the local consulate to replace or renew it.
The F-1 visa provides eligibility for entry to the United States. The length of your visa dictates how long you can use that visa for entry/re-entry to this country. This document does not determine your length of stay in the United States; it indicates a date range within which you are approved for entry to the US.
You can remain in the U.S. with an expired visa, so long as you maintain F-1 status. If you exit the U.S. for any reason, a unexpired F-1 visa will be required for re-entry.
An I-20 is a Certificate of Eligibility which SJSU issues once you have become an officially admitted student. It provides details required by the United States government to obtain a visa for entry into the country. This I-20 document is necessary every time you apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy, enter through a Port of Entry or apply for any type of benefit in the United States. Closely review the details of your I-20 document for errors and contact the International Student Advising (ISA) department immediately in the case that any corrections are needed.
If you have attended another school within the U.S., your Form I-20 may have the remark “Transfer Pending From” with the name of your past school listed in section 3. If the Customs Officer requests more details regarding this portion, politely inform them that SJSU will complete the transfer upon your arrival to our campus. You can learn more about entering the US at the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website.
The I-94 is an electronic record of your arrival to the United States. Immigration Officers will scan your passport to create this electronic record. The I-94 will indicate what date you have travelled, your current status and your length of stay. Your length of stay will be marked as "D/S," or Duration of Status; meaning that as long as you maintain F-1 status, you are approved for as long as it takes to complete your academic program. Your electronic, I-94 record can be accessed online. Please review this record, if discrepancies are noted, or if there is difficulty in finding your I-94 record, please contact International Student Advising (ISA) for assistance.
Those who have entered the U.S. prior to April 2013, will have a paper I-94. This is a small, white card stapled to your passport.
For more information regarding the I-94, please see CBP’s I-94 Fact Sheet (pdf).
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will stamp your passport with the arrival
and will write “F-1 D/S” on the stamp. F-1 refers to the categoryof student visa and D/S means “Duration of Status.” Duration of Status indicates that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for as long as you maintain your F-1 status while you complete your academic program. If you receive a stamp that says anything other than "F-1 D/S" please speak to an International Student Advisor.
Temporary Admission or Form I-515(A)
If you forget an immigration document, the immigration officer may issue you a Form I-515 (A), which grants you temporary admission to the U.S. for 30 days. If this occurs, please visit the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office during normal business hours as soon as possible after your arrival so we can assist you with resolving this issue. Please bring all of your immigration documents, including the form I-515 (A) issued at the port of entry.