Required F-1 Documents
Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant F-1 Student Status
The Form I-20 is an official document issued by U.S. universities to newly-admitted, non-immigrant students who wish to study in the U.S. It is required by the U.S. Department of State as part of an application for an F-1 student visa, providing basic information about the school and academic program to which the student was admitted.
At UT Dallas, I-20s are issued by the International Student Services Office (ISSO).
What is referred to as a U.S. visa stamp is actually a sticker. The visa is issued in the visitor’s passport by a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. The visa indicates that the visitor is eligible to travel to the United States and request entry. Most visas allow for multiple use. The conditions and duration of the visa vary greatly depending on the visa category (tourist, student, investor, etc.) and political agreements between the U.S. and other countries.
To look up how long a specific visa might be valid, please review the U.S. State Department Reciprocity by Country webpage.
Form I-94: Arrival/Departure Record
Upon arriving in the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers determine if the visitor is admissible. If so, they will issue a Form I-94, a small white or green card which lists the visa status and duration of stay allowed in the U.S. It is proof of legal entry, so it is important to keep safe while in the U.S. It will be returned to CBP when departing the U.S. and a new one issued upon re-entry.
Once inside the U.S, keeping legal permission to remain in the U.S. depends on meeting the conditions of the assigned visa category.
For an F-1 student this includes keeping the Form I-20 up-to-date and not staying beyond its expiration date. For most international travel, both the I-20 and the visa stamp must be valid and unexpired.