It is extremely important that international students keep their immigration documents valid, up-to-date, and in a safe and secure place.


Your passport must be valid at all times. If your passport is nearing its expiration date, you should contact your country's embassy to renew your passport. If you will travel outside of the U.S. and will reenter the U.S., your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months from your date of reentry.

If you renew your passport but your F-1 visa is stamped in your expired passport, your embassy should return your old passport to you. When reentering the U.S. you should carry both passports with you.


Customs and Boarder Protection have automated the I-94 and I-94W process for all travelers applying for admission at U.S. ports of entry. Air and sea travelers no longer need to complete paper form I-94. Learn more here. You may also want to make a copy of the I-94 printed from the CBP website for your personal records. This form will be very important if you must speak to a U.S. government official (Social Security, Bureau of Motor Vehicles)

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) web-based system that maintains accurate and current information on international students in F-1 and J-1 visa status, as well as their dependents (F-2/J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the internet to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State (DOS). Schools must report the students' and visitor scholars' status throughout their stay in the United States. All students in F-1 visa status must have a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" issued by an educational institution where they study. The main requirements of the visa status are printed on the page two of the form.

All prospective students planning to come to the United States on F-1 visas must obtain a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 before applying to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for their visa. The I-20 must be submitted with the visa application. The consular officer will verify the I-20 record electronically through SEVIS. All students entering the United States initially, or applicants for changing status to F-1, must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee to the Department of Homeland Security before their visa application is processed. All undergraduate students will have this paid by Walsh University's Admissions Office. All graduate students will be required to pay this fee at SEVIS I-901. The form I-20 must be valid during your stay here and reflect your current academic status. You must attend the school specified on this form. For initial admission, students must attend the school specified on the form I-20 and the visa stamp in the passport.

Duration of Status

All students entering the U.S. on an F-1 visa will note that the passport and I-20 bear a notation of "D/S" (duration of status). Duration of status means the period during which the student "is pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for attendance by foreign students, or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies, plus 60 days to prepare for departure from the United States. The student is considered to be maintaining status if he or she is making normal progress toward completing a [full] course of study." 


If your F-1 visa has expired, but your I-20 is still valid, and you are either studying full-time at the university which issued your I-20 and in the major and academic level listed on your I-20, or you are currently engaged in Optional Practical Training, or you are in your 60-day grace period, you may remain in the U.S. even if your F-1 visa has expired.

Grace Period

Students in F-1 status have a 60-day grace period following either the completion of the academic program or the completion of Optional Practical Training. During this 60-day grace period, you may either

  • Start a new academic program at Walsh University. (You should receive an I-20 for your new academic program within your grace period)
  • Transfer to another university.
  • Apply for Post-Completion OPT if you just completed your academic program and are eligible.
  • Change to another non-immigration visa status.
  • Depart the U.S.

F-1 students who remain in the U.S. past the end of the 60-day grace period without taking one of the steps listed above are in violation of their immigration status and are "overstaying" their visa.