Regardless of your visa type, you should be sure to bring all the documents listed below to the Office of International Student Services immediately upon arrival so that copies can be made for your file. You should also become familiar with the following documents and be aware of their importance in relation to your immigration status:PASSPORT:
Your passport should be updated before you depart for the U.S. and must be kept valid at least six months into the future at all times. Your passport can be renewed through your country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S., or in your own country during a vacation abroad.FORM I-20:
This is the Certificate of Eligibility for the regular F-1 visa and F-1 student status. It is issued to you by Rollins College once you have been accepted and have provided financial documentation showing your ability to pay for your education and living expenses. The I-20 is used to obtain the F-1 student visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country. It is also required for entry to the U.S.
After your initial entry to the U.S., your I-20 must be properly signed by a Designated School Official (DSO) in the Office of International Student Services before leaving the U.S. for temporary travel during your studies. Signatures are required in order to reenter the U.S. and are generally valid for one year, although it is recommended that you have it signed twice a year if travelling. The I-20 does not have to be signed every time you travel.
Please note the date of completion of study in Section 5 on the I-20 is an estimated date. It may take you more or less time to complete your program of study. You must be enrolled full time and making “normal progress” toward completion of your program at all times. If you will not finish your studies by the completion date on your I-20, you need to contact the Office of International Student Services prior to that date to request an extension.FORM DS-2019:
This is the Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Exchange Visitors (both students and visiting scholars). It is generally issued to sponsored or exchange students with government or school support, and may also be issued to visiting professors, researchers and short-term scholars coming to Rollins. After your initial entry to the U.S., your DS-2019 must be signed by a Responsible Officer (RO) of the college before leaving the U.S. for temporary travel during their program. The signature will be required in order to reenter the U.S. Students holding DS-2019 forms issued by program sponsors other than Rollins (IIE, ACTR, LASPAU, etc.) must have the Form signed by a Responsible Officer of that organization. Signatures for travel may be valid for the entire length of your stay in the U.S., but check with your Responsible Officer to be sure.
Please note that the ending date on the DS-2019 does not include a grace period. You are expected to complete your J-1 program by the expiration date listed on the DS-2019, and depending upon the program. You may or may not be eligible for an extension of stay.VISA:
When you go to the American embassy or consulate in your country and present your I-20 or your DS-2019, the Consular Officer will place a visa stamp (should be an F-1 or J-1) on a page inside your passport. This visa gives you permission to apply for entry to the U.S. It indicates the type of visa you have been given for your stay in the U.S. and when it will expire. Also, it will indicate how many times you can enter the U.S. using that visa (e.g. single/two/multiple). Please read the section entitled “Obtaining Your Student Visa.”
Please note that a visa does not determine the length of time you may stay in the U.S. It is basically an entry permit and only needs to be valid at the time of entry or reentry to the U.S. Therefore, you should not be concerned if it expires while you are here unless you are planning to travel overseas and reenter the U.S. The length of time you are authorized to stay in the United States is determined by your approved program of study only, as indicated on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and your Form I-94.FORM I-94:
This is a small white card that will be stapled inside your passport by an Immigration official at the U.S. port of entry. Noted on it will be your admission/departure number, your immigration status (F-1, J-1, etc.), date of entry, port of entry, and the length of time that your status is valid. A notation of “D/S” means that your status is valid for “duration of status” (see more below). This I-94 card will be removed each time you leave the U.S. and a new one will be issued upon reentry to the U.S. Do not accept a green I-94 card (this is issued as part of the visa waiver program – see more below). If you do receive one, however, see the International Student Services Coordinator immediately, as this may be problematic.
All foreign citizens are issued an I-94 card when they arrive at a U.S. port of entry. Therefore, every international student, regardless of visa type, should have this form stapled into his or her passport. It is your most important immigration document – do not lose it!