Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents at all times, including your I-20 and passport with I-94 card attached or F-1 admission stamp (depending on what you received upon your last entry to the U.S.). Below is an overview of the documents related to your F-1 status. For day-to-day purposes, we suggest that these documents be kept in a secure location such as a bank safe-deposit box. You should carry photocopies of the documents with you; however, if you are traveling outside the Wilkes-Barre area, you should carry the original documents. If you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe place, such as a bank safe-deposit box. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police because your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country's consulate in the U.S.
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. (Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa). If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S. Exceptions to this rule exist for short trips to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands. Visas can only be obtained outside of the U.S. at a U.S. consulate.
I-20 Certificate of Eligibility
All foreign students that study in the United States need a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” Once accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, international students will receive a Form I-20 from their designated school official (DSO) depending on their program of study and purpose for coming to the United States. Issued by King's College, this document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are outside the U.S, apply for F-1 status within the U.S, enter and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility for various F-1 benefits. The I-20 indicates the institution in which you are permitted to study, your program of study, and the dates of eligibility. The I-20 must remain valid at all times. Request an I-20 extension prior to its expiration date. Allowing the I-20 to expire before you complete your academic program is a violation of F-1 status.
Note that once you have completed or terminated your program, or have failed to maintain legal student status, you can no longer legally enter the US with your current I-20.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
When you enter the U.S. you are issued either an admission stamp in your passport or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. In summer of 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transitioned to electronic arrival/departure records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards.
You might receive either a paper I-94 card or an F-1 admission stamp in your passport (no card), depending on where you arrive. The admission stamp or I-94 card records the date and place you entered the U.S., your immigration status (for example, F-1 or F-2), and authorized period of stay (indicated by "D/S", meaning "duration of status"). Be sure to check the stamp to make sure it is correct. If you receive a paper I-94 card, keep it stapled in your passport. A $330 fee is required to replace a lost, stolen or damaged paper I-94 card. Consult the office of International Recruitment if you lose your I-94 card. You can obtain a printout of your I-94 record at CBP.gov/I94.
The name on your I-20 should match the name on your passport. If you change any part of your legal name—first/given name, middle name, or last/family name—on your passport, this change should be reflected on your I-20. Conversely, if you want a different name on your I-20, the DSO will wait for you to change your passport first before updating the I-20. Note that SEVIS is a separate database from the King’s College database. To change your name in the King’s College database, use WebAdvisor.