You must keep your passport valid at all times. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time (at least six months) to renew your passport. To renew your passport, contact the embassy or consulate of your country in the U.S. or stop by the International Student Center (Christie Hall 022) for assistance.
At your port of entry into U.S., the immigration officer returns to you a small white card which you fill out while on the plane or standing in line. This card is known as the I-94. It records the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. The I-94, not the visa, is the record of your permission to remain here. For F-1 and J-1 visa holders, the I-94 is usually marked "D/S" or "Duration of Status." This means you have permission to remain in the U.S. for the length of your program stated on your I-20 or DS-2019 as long as you are fully engaged in it. If your I-94 card has been lost or stolen, contact ISS immediately.
The University issues you a document called an I-20. This document is created by ISS in the U.S. Government's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The I-20 is used when applying for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy and is used at the time of entry to the U.S. Upon arrival to the U.S. an immigration officer stamps the I-20 and returns it to you. This stamp indicates the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. and should be kept with your passport and I-94 card. You must keep the original I-20, and any subsequent I-20 documents that are issued to you. ISS staff will endorse travel signatures on your I-20, assist in transferring the I-20 document to another school, and provide endorsement on the I-20 for employment off-campus. If your I-20 is lost or stolen notify ISS immediately.
The University issues you a DS-2019 document. This document was created by ISS in SEVIS. This form is used when applying for a J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy and is used at the time of entry to the U.S. Upon arrival to the U.S. an immigration officer stamps the DS-2019 and returns it to you. It indicates the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. and should be kept with your passport and I-94 card.
The visa is a stamped (or pasted-in) endorsement made in the passport by a U.S. consulate or embassy official outside the U.S. It indicates that all requirements have been met for entry into the U.S. The number of entries allowed within a specified period is indicated on the visa and can vary from country to country. A valid visa is essential for entering and reentering the U.S. However, the visa does not determine the length of time you may remain in the U.S. It is common that a visa will expire during a course of study or exchange visitor program. An F-1 or J-1 visa is the only immigration document that is allowed to expire while you are in the U.S.
Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. Click here for more information about requirements for Canadian citizens.
The Office of International Student Services is open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.