A government issued passport permits a student to leave and re-enter his/her own country and normally contains an expiration date. In order to enter the U.S, F students must present a passport that valid at least 6 months into the future. Therefore, F students should ensure to keep their passport up to date.
Renewing your passport:
Contact the closest consulate or embassy in the U.S. For a list of embassies and consulates in the U.S visit the U.S State Department's website.
Ask the consulate representative what forms and fees are required.
Once the new passport is received, upload a copy in iStart using the Immigration Document Upload e-form.
With the exception of students from Canada or Bermuda, F students are required to present a valid F visa upon entry into the U.S. The visa is stamped into the passport by the U.S consulate or embassy. The visa does not determine the length of time F students can remain in the U.S. It is the I-20 that reflects the length of stay. Since it is an entry permit, the visa can expire while the student resides in the U.S., but it must be valid at time of reentry.
Renewing your U.S. visa for re-entry: It is not possible to renew an F-1 visa while you are in the U.S. If you are traveling abroad and your visa has expired, you will need to renew your visa while abroad unless you are eligible for automatic visa revalidation. For information on renewing your passport at a consulate/embassy abroad, visit OIE's Visa Renewal website.
Once the new visa is obtained, upload a copy in iStart using the Immigration Document Upload e-form.
Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
I-94 arrival/departure records are issued at the time of entry into the U.S. All F students should possess a I-94 record that contains the following:
An "Admit Until Date" of D/S. D/S stands for duration of status and signifies that a F student may remain in the U.S for the length of their program of study as long as they are maintaining lawful status. Upon completion of studies, F students may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If approved, F students are allowed to remain in the U.S for the OPT period plus an additional 60 day grace period.
A "Class of Admission" of F-1
Correct date of entry into the U.S
Correct biographical information
An 11 digit I-94 number
Paper I-94s versus Electronic I-94s
Paper I-94s: Until April 30, 2013, the I-94 was a paper document. Students who arrived in the U.S. before April 30, 2013 and who have not traveled abroad, will still have a paper I-94 which should be stapled in their passport.
Electronic I-94s: On April 30, 2013, the US government published a new regulation eliminating paper I-94s arrival/departure records and moved to an electronic system. These records can be accessed online, and foreign visitors will no longer need to fill out the paper I-94 form when arriving to the US. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officials will gather the visitor's arrival and departure information by accessing the electronic travel records. For more information please see OIE's announcement about the new process or CBP's FAQ page.
To access your electronic I-94 record, please visit CBP's I-94 Number Retrieval website.
Having problems accessing your I-94, click here for help.
The I-20 is a "Certificate of Eligibility" is the immigration document issued to an individual who has been admitted to Georgia Tech to pursue a full-time academic program and requires a student visa to enter the U.S. to study. The majority of international students at Georgia Tech will be issued an I-20 to apply for an F-1 student visa. The I-20 states an F student's biographical, academic, and financial information. The I-20 contains an expected program completion date. Students who meet their degree requirements prior to this date will have their I-20 shortened. Students who do not complete by the end date listed on the I-20, are required to request an extension from the OIE prior to the expiration date listed on the form I-20.
Please note: SEVIS recently underwent a major upgrade, and the look of the I-20 changed dramatically. Therefore, your I-20 may look different than the I-20 another student has. You can see the two different versions of the I-20, with the older version on the left and the new version on the right. For more detailed information about these changes, please see the Study in the States website.
We will begin the process of issuing everyone a new I-20 in the upcoming year so that every GT student has an updated I-20 by July 2016. Whether you have the new or older version should have no or limited impact when you're applying for benefits such as a driver's license or social security number.
Depending upon which version of your I-20 that you have, either the second or third page contains space for employment authorization and travel signatures. These are granted by a Georgia Tech Designated School Official (DSO)/International Student Advisor.
When to Carry your Immigration Documents
You should carry your original immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019, passport, I-94) with you when you travel outside the Atlanta area or when visiting any government office, such as the Social Security Administration or to get your driver's license.
However, OIE recommends that you carry copies of your documents with you when you are inside the Atlanta area and keep your original documents in a safe place that is easily accessible. This way, you are less likely to lose them but are able to present them if needed. It is your choice if you would like to carry your original documents or copies with you during the course of a normal day.