Carry Immigration Documents at All Times

Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents at all times, including your immigration documents. You should keep your original immigration documents in a secure location, and carry copies of your immigration documents for day-to-day purposes. However, if you are traveling within/outside the U.S. you must carry your original immigration documents with you. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.


Your passport must be valid for 6 months into the future at all times while in the U.S. You should contact the consulate of your home country if your passport will be expiring. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police right away, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. A list of foreign consulates located in the U.S. is available on our Resource page

Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility

An I-20 is issued by the U.S. school you attend and allows you to apply for an F-1 visa, enter/re-enter the U.S. to pursue your program of study, and prove you are in the U.S. legally.

The information on your I-20 must remain current at all times throughout your study.
Contact our office immediately if:

  • There are changes to your field of study (major/minor) or legal name.
  • You cannot complete your program before the program end date. You must complete and submit the Program Extension Form prior to the end date with the Center for International Education. 
  • You will graduate before the program end date. You must contact the Center for International Education in order to change the program end date.

F-1 Visa

Your F-1 visa is permission to enter the U.S. as a student, and can be expired while you remain in the U.S. to pursue your program of study. A visa can only be secured at a U.S. consulate, and ISS recommends that you apply in your home country. A list of U.S. consulates worldwide are available on our Resource page

I-94 Electronic Record

The I-94 electronic record and a current I-20 are what allow you to remain in the United States as an F-1 student. You will have an electronic I-94 record, which documents that dates every time you enter and leave the U.S.. The I-94 record is the only way to prove that you have entered the U.S. legally. You can obtain your I-94 record at . A stamp with the date/place you entered the U.S. legally should be placed in your passport at the Port of Entry.