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IMPORTANT IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS THAT GOVERN YOUR STAY IN THE UNITED STATES
This is the visa you obtained at the American Embassy or Consulate which allowed you to ask for permission to enter the United States. A nonimmigrant visa (such as an F-1 or J-1) is valid only for the purpose for which it was issued. It is NOT a guarantee of entry. For initial admission, you are required to report to the school for which I-20 or DS-2019 you used to obtain the visa. Once you have been granted entry, your visa does NOT determine how long you stay in the U.S. You are required to renew your visa only when you leave the U.S. and wish to return and if your visa has expired or if your visa was designated as "single entry only." A request to obtain a new visa must be made at the American Embassy or Consulate outside the United States. PLEASE NOTE: If your visa has expired, it is all right to remain in the U.S. if you are in legal F-1 or J-1 status. However, you must renew your visa if you go outside of the U.S.
This is your most important piece of identification, and you need to keep it valid at least six months beyond your projected date of departure from the U.S. You cannot renew your visa unless your passport is current; neither can you leave the U.S. without a valid passport. It is strongly urged that you photocopy important pages of your passport, i.e., the identification page, the expiration page, and the visa page. Should you lose your passport, having photocopies of important pages may reduce the time needed to replace the document. To renew your passport, YOU must contact your country's embassy or consulate.
3. I-94 Card
This is the entry permit issued by the DHS inspector at the port of entry into U.S. This is the little white card which was stapled into your passport upon arrival in the U.S. KEEP IT THERE AND DO NOT LOSE IT! THIS CARD IS YOUR PERMIT TO REMAIN IN U.S. The D/S status marked on the I-94 card means you are permitted to remain in U.S. for as long as you are pursuing your intended program of study, provided you remain in status, your I-20 or DS-2019 has not expired and you are making satisfactory progress toward completion of your program.
4. I-20 - Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant F-1 Student Status
This form is issued to you to attend WKU initially. Having accepted the I-20, you are required by DHS to attend WKU for at least one semester before transferring. Whenever you travel outside U.S, you must carry a current I-20 form endorsed by a Designated School Official (DSO) at ISSS. You must also check the visa requirements of the countries to which you will travel. The I-20 form certifies you are eligible to study at the designated school and you have verified your financial ability to pay tuition, fees and basic living costs while pursuing your education. Page 3 of I-20 form is used to note transfers and other records (i.e., employment, reinstatement of status). It is also used to document your date of readmission to the U.S. after a temporary absence. In conjunction with your I-94, your I-20 indicates length of time you have permission to remain in U.S. (by the expiration date) as long as you are still maintaining your status and working towards the degree indicated on the I-20.
5. DS-2019 - Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant J-1 Student Status
The DS-2019 is a white, two-page document issued by WKU to individuals for US entry in J-1 status for the purpose of study. The DS-2019 should remain valid (unexpired) throughout your studies in the US. If your studies will continue beyond the current DS-2019 expiration date, you may request an extension through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.
6. New I-20 or DS-2019
All F-1 students are issued I-20 forms and J-1 students issued DS-2019 forms to enter the U.S. Most immigration transactions will be noted on these forms. If you should receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 for any reason (program extension, school transfer, change of degree or major, travel), KEEP ALL OF YOUR PREVIOUS I-20's or DS-2019's as a record of your legal stay in the U.S. DHS regulations state you should keep your I-20 or DS-2019 with you at all times. You will not surrender it for temporary absences outside the U.S. If you lose your I-20 or DS-2019 form, please report it to the Office of International Student & Scholar Services immediately. In some cases, we may be able to issue a duplicate.