In order to enter and stay in the United States, all nonimmigrant students must possess valid immigration documents. Those in F-1 status are required to carry with them their passport, F-1 visa, and Form I-20 at all times; however, we recommend that you store them in a safe location in your room on campus, only carrying your original documents for domestic and international travel. If you are traveling by air, train, bus, or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. It’s best practice to keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen. You’ll also want to update your documents on file with the Office of Global Education should you update or obtain new copies of these documents.
Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep your passport in a safe location, and report a lost or stolen passport to the police as soon as possible. Your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S.
The visa is the sticker or stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. Your F-1 student visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student. Your visa does not need to remain valid while you are in the U.S., however, if your visa expires before your program completion and you travel internationally, you will be required to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.
While a change of status (from one visa category to another) can be applied for while in the United States, visas can only be obtained outside of the U.S. at a U.S. consulate. Visit Study in the States for more information on how to apply for an F-1 Visa.
Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa.
- Department of State Visa Wizard
- Study in the States: Applying for a visa to travel to the United States
- SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment Tutorial
- Download: How to Apply for an F-1 Visa for Exchange
- Download: How to Apply for an F-1 Visa for Study Abroad
Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status
The Form I-20 is a printout of your SEVIS record, created by a Designated School Official at High Point University. This document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa, enter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility for various F-1 benefits. It indicates that you are permitted to study a specific field of study at High Point University for a specific program length. For degree-seeking students, this will be for the duration of your degree plan, typically four years for new students. For exchange student, this will be for either a 4-month, 9-month, or 12-month period, depending on the term(s) listed on your application and confirmed by your home university. Your program can be extended if your request is approved by both HPU and your home institution. A request for program extension must be made prior to your Form I-20’s expiration date. Contact the Office of Global Education if you would like to extend your program at HPU.
Form I-94: Arrival & Departure Record
The Form I-94 is your arrival and departure record. When you enter the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will scan your passport creating an electronic arrival record and stamping your passport with an admission stamp noting the place and date you entered the U.S., your immigration status, and your authorized period of stay. Make sure the information provided is correct. You should notice a handwritten note stating “F-1” for your status and “D/S” for “Duration of Status”.
If you entered the U.S. at a land boarder, you may receive a paper I-94 in place of an electronic I-94 and admission stamp. This will be a small white card stapled to page in your passport normally opposite your F-1 visa. If you receive a paper I-94, keep it stapled to your passport. A $330 fee is required to replace a lost, stolen or damaged paper I-94 card.
You will need your I-94 in order to apply for various benefits such as a Social Security Number or campus employment. You can print a copy of your I-94 record online.
When traveling, you may also be asked for additional documents, such as:
- Proof of Financial Support
- Admission Letter or Current Class Schedule
- SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt
If you cannot find your SEVIS fee receipt, visit the Student and Exchange Visitor Program SEVIS I-901 fee processing website to request a copy of your receipt.