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Immigration Documents: Passport, Visa, and I-94

As an international student, you are in possession of three important documents, all of which help to determine your legal status in the U.S. Your passport with a U.S. visa and I-20/DSP 2019 form are necessary to gain entry to this country. Your I-94 Form will show that you have legally entered the U.S. Once you are here, your I-20/DSP 2019 and I-94 form 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 to make arrangements to have it 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. You must contact the International Center if your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, or expired. Find a list of foreign Embassies and Consulates in the U.S. here.

Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)

The I-94 Arrival/Departure record is created at the time of your entry to the U.S. This electronically created document indicates your visa category and contains an 11-digit identifying number called the "admission number," which is used to keep track of your arrival to and departure from the U.S. This form determines how long you can stay in the U.S. You will need this form if you wish to apply for a Social Security Number, a Connecticut driver’s license or Connecticut state ID card or open a bank account. You should download your form soon after your arrival to the U.S. You should also bring a copy to the International Center if you have not done so already.

Follow these steps to print your I-94 Form:

  • Go to
  • 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, you will have to contact the Immigration Service in Hartford Ct.  They will make an appointment for you with the Customs and Border Patrol office at Bradley International Airport.
  • If there are no errors, you must print out your I-94 Form and keep it with your passport and I-20/DSP 2019 Form

Form I-20/DSP 2019

This form is issued by the International Center and used to obtain an F-1or J-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20/DSP 2019. You are required to keep the information on your I-20/DSP 2019 accurate. If you lose your I-20/DSP 2019, you should immediately request a new one from the International Center.

You must carry your I-20/DSP 2019 with you if you travel outside the U.S. for any reason during your course of study. In addition, you must contact the International Center to have your I-20/DSP 2019 signed prior to your travel or you may be denied reentry to the U.S. Travel signatures from the International Center are valid for five months.

You should update your I-20/DSP 2019 Form if:

  • You change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major or field of study to another (e.g., from chemical engineering to physics).
  • Your source of funding changes (e.g. from parents to scholarship).
  • You add dependents
  • You need to extend your program of study beyond the original program completion date on your I-20/DSP 2019 Form

Expiration Date on Form I-20/DSP 2019: The expiration date on your form is the date that your program in the U.S. is expected to end. If you are on an F-1 visa, you will have 60 days from that date before you are required to leave the U.S. If you are on a J-1 visa you will have 30 days. This period of time is considered a "grace period" and you may use this time to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S. 

During the grace period you are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind. You will not be permitted to reenter the U.S. if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on your I-20/DSP 2019, even if it falls within this 30- or 60-day period.


The F-1or J-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. at a future date. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S. one more time. 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/DSP 2019 remains valid and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.

What do I do if my visa expires?

Please note the date of your visa’s expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. but your I-20/DSP 2019 and 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 and does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your I-20/DSP 2019. 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 I-20/DSP 2019 and 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.