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Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an online database that allows USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track all international students.
Maintain a valid passport at all times. Make sure to renew your passport at least six months prior to the expiration date. Your passport can be renewed within the United States at your country's consulate or embassy. Please contact your country's consulate/embassy at www.embpage.org
A Visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. You must make sure that your visa is valid for your re-entry. An expired visa must be renewed at a U.S. consulate/embassy outside of the U.S. prior to re-entry.
Remember! This visa is only a permit to enter the United States. Once you are here, your I-20/DS2019 becomes the relevant document that keeps you in status.
Your I-20 form expires on the date you complete your studies. This cannot be extended once you have graduated. F-1 students who have applied for Optional Practical Training, (OPT) will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which will show the dates of validity. F-1 students are permitted to remain in the U.S. for 60 days after completing their study program.
Extension of Stay
If you are unable to complete your program of study by the expiration date noted in item #5 on your I-20 form you must submit an Extension of Stay to the IESC at least 60 days prior to that expiration date. J-1 students must check #3 on the DS2019 for the expiration date.
Change of Major
You must report any change of your major and degree level to the IESC no later than 10 days after the change has been made. IESC is required to report these changes to USCIS. You will need to submit a Request for New I-20/ DS2019 to the IESC.
Leave of Absence
A Leave of absence (LOA) for one semester or one year requires approval from a Foreign Student Advisor. Students must remain outside the U.S. for the duration of the approved LOA. Students approved for a medical leave may remain in the U.S. Students who do not resume studies after two semesters will need to reapply to the university.
Remember to obtain a travel signature on your I-20/DS2019 from the IESC when traveling outside the borders of the U.S. Plan ahead of time! The IESC currently requires 3-5 business days to process these requests.
Travel signatures are granted to students who meet all eligibility requirements. Travel signatures for continuing students will be valid for one year provided the student continues to maintain correct student status.
Students who need to travel during the semester will have to demonstrate eligibility in addition to obtaining permission from all professors to miss classes. Professors may e-mail permission to the appropriate FSA or students may bring letters from professors when submitting I-20's for travel signatures.
Students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must show a Notice of Receipt from USCIS in addition to proof of acceptable health insurance and a valid F-1 visa in order to request a travel signature. Students who have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or approval for OPT must submit a copy of the EAD as well as show proof of acceptable health insurance and a valid F-1 visa in order to request a travel signature. USCIS recommends that students on OPT show a letter from their employer at the Port of Entry when returning to the U.S. All students who have either applied for or are currently on OPT should communicate with their FSA for current information on appropriate documents and immigration regulations.
Automatic Form I-94 Arrival/Departure-Record
Form I-94 is the Department of Homeland Security's arrival and departure record. The immigration officer at the port of entry enters your arrival/departure information in their data base.
Effective April 30, 2013, for travel via air and sea, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will no longer issue paper versions of the Form I-94 upon your entry to the U.S. Instead, the Port of Entry Officer will place an admission stamp in your passport marked with the visa status (F1, J1, etc. ) and the letters "D/S" to indicate you have properly entered the U.S. Your arrival and departure information will be recorded electronically in the CBP's database. If you are traveling by land, you will be issued a paper Form I-94.
International students may access their electronic Form I-94 at www.cbp.gov/I94 within approximately 24 hours of their arrival to the U.S. All students should keep a printed Form I-94 with their passport in case they apply for future benefits such as work authorizations, social security numbers, or driver's licenses.
For more information about the new Form I-94 process, please visit the Customs and Border Patrol website.