Four immigration documents help maintain your status in the U.S. as an international student with an F-1 Student Visa: Your passport, your visa, your I-20, and your I-94. Keep your original documents in a safe place, and make photocopies of all of your documents.
Your passport must always be valid while you are in the United States. If your passport is going to expire while you’re a student, or if it’s lost or stolen, you must contact your local consulate or your embassy to renew it.
Additionally, your passport must always be valid at least 6 months into the future when you enter the United States.
When you enter the United States, a border officer will stamp your passport with your arrival date and write “F-1 D/S” in it. F-1 refers to your student status, and “D/S” stands for “Duration of Status.” This means you are allowed to stay in the United States as long as you maintain your F-1 status by studying.
F-1 Student Visa
Your F-1 Visa allows you to enter the United States. All F-1 students, except Canadian citizens, must have an F-1 Visa to enter the United States.
The dates on your visa tell you when you can use that visa to enter the United States. Your visa does not determine your length of stay in the United States—it only tells you when you can use it to enter the United States. You can remain in the United States with an expired visa, as long as you maintain F-1 status.
You must have a valid F-1 Visa every time you enter the United States, however. See how to obtain an F-1 Visa.
Your I-20 is a document that gives supplemental information on your F-1 status. It’s created in SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
SEVIS is a database that houses information on all F-1 students in the U.S. You will need your I-20 to get an F-1 Visa and to enter the United States. You should keep every I-20 issued to you in a safe place. Whenever you get a new I-20, read it carefully to make sure the information is correct, and sign and date it at the bottom.
If you find any errors, let International Student Services know, and we'll correct it. While you're still studying here at Lesley University, you should make sure your “Program End Date” in the Program of Study Section is always in the future. If you need to travel outside the United States, to go home or to go on vacation, you’ll need a signature from our International Student Services Office on the second page.
Your I-94 is an electronic record that was automatically created by a border officer when you arrived in the United States. Your I-94 tells us the date you entered, your current status, and your length of stay.
Your status should be marked as "F-1" and your length of stay should be marked as "D/S." D/S stands for "Duration of Status," and it means that as long as you maintain F-1 status, you can stay in the United States for as long it takes you to complete your degree.
You can find your I-94 online. Let us know if you can't find your record or if you think there is a mistake on your record. We can help you locate a missing record or get an error corrected.
If you last entered the United States before April 2013, or if you entered through a land border, you’ll have a paper version of the I-94—a small white card stapled to your passport. It contains the same information as the electronic I-94.