Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) verifies arrival/departure information online. The I-94 shows your visa classification and how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. You can access your I-94 information online at i94.cbp.dhs.gov. The ALI recommends you print this information because its additional proof of your F-1 status.
The length of authorized stay for F-1 students is written on your I-94 as "D/S." This means "Duration of Status" and it allows F-1 students to stay in the U.S. until the program end date, plus 60 days. For more information about the I-94, see the I-94 Fact Sheet at cbp.gov/I94.
This document is necessary when traveling outside of your home country. It shows your name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and country of birth. It also includes a picture of yourself and is often used as a form of identification while you are in the U.S. You must always have a valid passport while in the U.S. If your passport expires, then contact your local consulate to renew it as soon as possible.
SEVIS I-20 Form for F-1 Students
This "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status" is issued to students when they are accepted to a school. It is used to apply for an F-1 visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. When you arrive in the U.S., the I-20 is shown to the immigration officer at the port of entry. The officer will stamp the form with a red entry stamp and will be returned to you. Students transferring schools within the U.S. will NOT have the red entry stamp on their I-20 form. Keep the I-20 with your passport at all times. If you do not complete your program by the end date on your I-20, please contact the ALI office.
The visa is the stamp placed in the passport by the U.S. embassy or consulate. It is the permit required to enter the U.S. The visa indicates the specific visa classification, the expiration date, name of the person, the number of valid entries, and the location and date it was issued. You must always have a valid visa in your passport when you enter the U.S. The visa does not have to be valid while you are in the US. It must be valid only when you travel outside the U.S. because you must have a valid visa to re-enter.
For more information on studying in the U.S. as an international student, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States website.