You have four important immigration documents which verify your student status:
1. Your passport issued by your country
2. Your U.S. visa which is your permission to apply for entry into the U.S.
3. your I-94 which is your authorization of stay, indicating length of your stay
4. Your I-20 or DS-2019.
NOTE: Citizens of Canada need only present the I-20 or DS-2019 and their passport upon entry to the U.S. and will be issued an I-94 immediately. They don’t need an entry visa.
Issued by your home country, this identifies you as a citizen of that country. For students and their dependents on F visas, the passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the time of your authorized stay in the U.S. To apply for extension of your passport, contact the nearest Consulate or Embassy in Washington, D.C. to obtain any necessary application forms and information about other requirements. The International Office or Registrar’s Office can provide you with an official certificate stating that you are a registered student if such a document is necessary to renew your passport. You should request information about renewal and apply far in advance of your expiration date since considerable time is required for some countries. Any time you mail your passport send it by Registered or Certified Mail.
This multi-colored stamp placed in your passport is issued by a U.S. Consulate and entitles you to apply for admission to the U.S. It indicates:
Place of issue
Type of visa
Date of issue
Expiration date (You must enter the U.S. before this date.)
How many times you may enter during that period of validity
FORM I-94 ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE CARD:
This small white card is issued to all non-immigrants and is stapled in the passport at the time of arrival in the U.S. The I-94 indicates the visa classification and the length of authorized stay in the U.S. This card is surrendered upon departure from the U.S., and a replacement is issued upon re-entry (except for trips to Canada and Mexico lasting less than 30 days).
The “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status” is issued to students at the time of acceptance to a school. It is used to apply for an F-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate in the home country and is then presented to the Immigration Officer at the port of entry upon arrival in the U.S. Students are given a copy which documents their valid student status in the U.S.
The “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is issued to potential exchange visitors when they are admitted to a school. It is used to apply for the J-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate in the home country. It is then presented to the immigration officials at the port of entry in order to be stamped. It can be used for re-entry to the U.S. as long as the visa is still valid. If the visa is not valid, a new DS-2019 can be requested from the Program Sponsor if the program is extended. A valid visa and active DS 2019 is always required in order to re-enter the US to resume studies in J-1 visa status.