Once you are in the U.S., your Form I-20 and Form I-94 become the controlling legal documents that determine the validity of your immigration status.
You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the U.S. (unless you are exempt from passport requirements). If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S., you must contact the embassy of your home country in order to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. with an expired passport. If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced. Please contact the OISS for help.
Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
This electronically retrieved document indicates your visa category and contains an eleven-digit identifying number called the admission number, which is used to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the U.S.
Follow these steps to print your Form I-94:
- Go to www.cbp.gov/i94
- Fill out your information in the fields provided
- Check the correct name spelling, all personal information, the visa category and expiration date of the authorized stay
- If errors are found, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) should be contacted as soon as possible. An OISS advisor can assist you in contacting CBP.
- If there are NO errors, you must print out your Form I-94 and keep it with your passport and Form I-20
Form I-94 officially determines how long you can stay in the U.S. and is one of your most important immigration documents. If there is a date written on the "Admit Until Date" line, you must apply to extend your stay or leave the U.S. within 60 days of that date. Extensions of stay must be filed in a timely manner in order to remain in the U.S.
If there is no date on your Form I-94, but rather the notation "D/S" (duration of status), you are considered to be in status for the entire length of time you are enrolled full-time in an educational program, plus an additional 60 days to prepare for departure, as long as your Form I-20 is valid. "D/S" does not mean that you can stay in the U.S. indefinitely.
Limitations of D/S:
1. D/S expires if a student takes longer than expected to complete an academic level. The amount of time permitted for completing studies at a given academic level is determined by the date on the initial I-20 issued at the beginning of each academic program. You must pay close attention to the expected completion date noted on your Form I-20 and file for an extension of stay at least 60 days before your present stay expires. You must apply for an extension of stay from the OISS if you plan to remain at UNH beyond the date specified on your Form I-20. As mentioned above, there is a 60-day grace period after the ending of your program during which you may stay in the U.S. while you prepare to depart.
2. D/S expires if a student does not maintain a full-course of study. Be sure to consult with an OISS advisor about any exceptions to avoid the serious consequences that may result from being out of status.
This form was issued by the OISS for your use to obtain an F-1 student visa from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20. You are required to keep the information on your Form I-20 accurate. If you lose your Form I-20, you should immediately request a new one from the OISS. You must carry your Form I-20 with you if you travel outside the U.S. for any reason during your course of study. In addition, you must contact the OISS to have your Form I-20 signed PRIOR TO YOUR TRAVEL or you may be denied reentry to the U.S.
Expiration Date on Form I-20: The expiration date on your Form I-20 (Item #5) is the date that your program in the U.S. is expected to end. You will have sixty (60) days from that date before you are required to leave the U.S. You may use this 60-day period to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S. You are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind during this time period. You will not be permitted to reenter the U.S. if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on Form I-20, even if it falls within this 60-day period.
The F-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the U.S. for a specific purpose and within a specific period of time. The visa may either be for single, double, or multiple entries. If it is authorized for single entry only, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the U.S. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S. one more time, as long as your Form I-20 is valid and travel is within the time specified on the visa. If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, provided that your Form I-20 remains valid and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.
Please look at your visa and note the date of expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. but your Form I-20 and Form I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the U.S. remains valid. Your visa is used for entry or reentry to the U.S. only. It does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your I-20. If your visa has expired and you depart the U.S., you will be required to obtain a new visa while outside the U.S. before attempting to reenter the U.S.
EXCEPTION: If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days, you will be permitted to reenter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with your current status and that your Form I-20 and Form I-94 are valid. If, however, you applied for and were NOT granted a new U.S. visa, you will not be permitted to reenter the U.S. using the expired visa. If you change your immigration status within the U.S. and then leave, you will be required to obtain a new visa in the new category before reentry to the U.S.