Discover Your Island

Important Legal Documents

One of the first things you will need to do before your departure for the U.S. is to get all of your legal documents in order. You will need to prepare the following documents in order to travel to and within the U.S. Please maintain them well and make sure the documents are always up-to-date.

Passport

This document is issued by the national government of your home country to certify the identity and nationality of its holder. If you obtain a new passport, and your F-1 visa is in your old passport, you need to keep and travel with both of them.

Visa

This document is usually inserted into your passport and states your purpose for being in the U.S. The visa also allows you to gain entrance to the U.S. It is legally acceptable to have an expired visa once you have entered the U.S. as long as your I-20 is valid. However, if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. after your visa has expired, you will need to re-apply for a new visa in order to gain re-entry into the U.S.

I-20

Form I-20 is your Certificate of Eligibility to study at an institution in the U.S. You will need to show this legal document in order to do any of the following:
  • Apply for a nonimmigrant visa
  • Enter the United States
  • Change visa status
  • Apply for available benefits to F and M students
  • Apply for a driver’s license
  • Apply for a social security number
  • Sign contracts with housing, internet, or any other accommodation service providers
  • Transfer money from home country (depend on the country).
How to maintain your I-20
  • All students should receive an I-20 document after they have been admitted to the University.
  • Upon receiving your I-20, review it to make sure that all of your information is correct, especially your name, date of birth, academic program, and the graduation date.
  • You are not allowed to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the “report to school date” on your I-20.
To update your I-20, please contact the Office of International Education. It is NOT legally acceptable to remain in the U.S. with an expired I-20. Your I-20 must be valid for the duration of your stay. Hence, it is important to keep your I-20 updated all the time. You will need to update your I-20 document when:  
  • You change your major, level, or school
  • You plan to travel home, or outside the U.S., during semester break
  • Your current I-20 expires.

I-94

The I-94 is proof of legal entry into the U.S. that is issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When entering the U.S. as a non-immigrant, the DHS officer will examine your passport and visa and then issue a passport admission stamp, called Form I-94, to prove that you arrived legally and indicates how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. You do not need to have your I-94 before you enter the U.S.; however, you should either receive your I-94 card or I-94 confirmation information after your arrival. You should know how to get access to and print your I-94 after your arrival in order to prove your legal status.  
 
To access your I-94, visit: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search, and input your personal information into the appropriate search boxes. Please note that all of your information on your I-94 has to match with the information on your visa.  Sometimes, DHS officers can mistakes when entering your information into the system which can lead to you not being able to find your record. If you are not able to find your record in the system, or if you find a mistake with your information in the system, please inform the Office of International Education, so we can correct and update the information for you.