Immigration Documents

As an international student in the United States, you must understand and maintain a number of immigration documents.

Passport

A passport is an official documentation of citizenship issued by one’s home country. While traveling outside your home country, your passport should always be valid for at least 6 months in the future. When your passport’s expiration is within 1 year of expiration, contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the US for information on passport renewal. Procedures change per country. Do not allow your passport to expire.

Visa

A visa is an entry document within one’s passport that shows that they have the right to enter the US in a certain immigration status or category. International students will usually have either F-1 or J-1 visas. US visa may only be obtained or renewed outside the US. If a visa expires while you are in the US, you may remain legally in the US as long as your status is valid. An F-1 student’s status is maintained through their Form I-20; a J-1 student’s status is maintained through their DS-2019.

If your visa expires and you are leaving the US, make arrangements with the US embassy or consulate in your country of travel to renew your visa before your return to the US.

Form I-20

A Form I-20 is a Certification of Eligibility for F-1 and F-2 international students. It includes the personal information of the non-immigrant, as well as the institution, major or minor and program end date of the student’s study. A Form I-20 is issued through SEVIS after admission to UALR and is used for the F visa interview and entry into the United States. Completing the Immigration Verification Form during the admission process provides an ISS advisor with documentation needed to issue an I-20.

While within the US, the Form I-20 is evidence of a student’s legal F status within the US. This document must be updated with any change of institution, major, program end date. Request a SEVIS update within 10 days of any change. As updates are issued, students will receive an updated I-20 which now becomes their original document for travel and status. Keep all  previous Forms I-20 for your records. Scanned copies of former Forms I-20 will suffice.

F-2 dependents also receive a Form I-20.

Form DS-2019

A Form DS-2019 is a Certification of Eligibility for J-1 and J-2 international students. It includes the personal information of the non-immigrant, as well as the institution, major or minor and program end date of the student’s study. A Form DS-2019  is issued through SEVIS after admission to UALR and is used for the J visa interview and entry into the United States.

While within the US, the Form DS-2019 is evidence of a student’s legal J status within the US. This document must be updated with any change of institution, major, program end date. Request a SEVIS update within 10 days of any change. As updates are issued, students will receive an updated DS-2019 which now becomes their original document for travel and status. Keep all  previous Forms DS-2019 for your records. Scanned copies of former Forms DS-2019 will suffice.

J-2 dependents also receive a Form DS-2019.

I-94


The I-94 is an entry document issued by Customs and Boarder Protections upon arrival into the United States. Previously this document was issued as a small card that was kept in your passport. In 2013 this document became electronic and is now available online for retrieval at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. Check your I-94 for accuracy. F and J students should find their “Admit Until Date” to be D/S, which stands for Duration of Status. This means that as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid (and you are pursuing full-time study or practical training), you are legal within the United States.

 

Learn more: Visa Application