Immigration Documents

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These documents are extremely important and will be needed as various forms of identification — both in the U.S. and if you travel outside the U.S. Replacement of forms can require a substantial fee, so take care not to lose your documents.

Passport

  • You must keep your passport valid 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., contact your Embassy to get your passport extended before expiration. You may not re-enter the United States with an expired passport.
  • If you lose your passport, you should take immediate steps with your Embassy to have it replaced.

Visa

  • The F-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the United States 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 re-enter the U.S.
  • If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. one more time as long as your I-20 is valid, you obtain a travel signature on page 3 from the International Services, and travel is within the time specified on the visa. (Immigration Inspectors will mark your visa with the notation "1 of 2" when you enter the first time.)
  • If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, provided that your I-20 remains valid, you obtain a travel signature on page 3 from the International Services, and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.

Please note the date of expiration on your visa.

  • 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 United States, you will be required to obtain a new visa while outside the U.S. before attempting to re-enter the United States. If you are NOT granted a new U.S. visa, you will NOT be permitted to re-enter 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.   Once you are in the U.S., your I-20 and I-94 card become the controlling legal documents that determine the validity of your immigration status in the United States.

Form I-20

You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20. You are required to keep the information on your I-20 accurate.

  • If you lose your I-20 you should immediately request a new one from the International Services.
  • You must carry Form I-20 with you if you travel outside the United States for any reason during your course of study.
  • In addition, you must contact the International Services 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 I-20 (Item #5) is the date that your program in the U.S. is expected to end (unless you complete your course of study prior to this date).
  • You will have sixty (60) days from that date before you are required to leave the United States.
  • You may use this 60-day period to prepare for your departure, to travel in the United States, or to become enrolled in another program.
  • You are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind during this time period.
  • You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on Form I-20, even if it falls within this 60-day period.

Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)

This small white card was given to you upon arrival in the U.S. It contains an eleven-digit identifying number called the admission number that is used to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the U.S.

  • If there is a date written in the upper right-hand corner of your I-94, 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 the 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 I-20 is valid.
  • "D/S" does not mean that you can stay in the U.S. indefinitely.
  • If you lose your I-94, you should immediately apply for a replacement document. Consult the International Services staff for procedures.

Limitations of D/S

  • 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 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 International Services if you plan to remain at the University of Indianapolis beyond the date specified on the form I-20.
  • As mentioned above, there is a 60-day period after the ending of your program during which you may stay in the U.S. while you prepare to depart.
  • D/S expires if a student does not maintain a full-course of study (see definitions). Be sure to consult with International Services staff about any exceptions to avoid the serious consequences that may result from being out of status.