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Documents & Definitions

Passport

All foreign national student, scholars, and employees must have a valid passport at all times while residing in the U.S. At the time of entry into the U.S. the foreign national's passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future. Passports can be renewed at the scholar's home country embassy or consulate.

» List of Foreign Consulates

Visa Stamp

Visa stamps are issued at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. The visa stamp is affixed to a page in the passport and is a travel document only. It allows foreign nationals to apply for entry at a U.S. Port of Entry, (i.e. an airport, seaport, or land border crossing). Once entry is approved, the visitor enters the U.S. in the non-immigrant status that matches the visa classification.

It is important to note that a visa stamp does not permit entry into the U.S. A visa stamp simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. Consular Officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and that the officer has determined that you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose.

A visa stamp allows you to travel to the U.S. as far as the port of entry (airport or land border crossing) and ask the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Officer to allow you to enter the country. Only the USCBP Officer has the authority to permit you to enter the U.S. He/she decides how long you can stay for any particular visit.

Understanding your visa stamp:

Visa Stamp

Visa Status

When the USCBP Officer permits admission into the U.S. a non-immigrant visa status is granted and indicated on the I-94 record. To maintain legal visa status in the U.S. the following documents must be valid at all times: the passport, I-94 record, and the visa eligibility document (Examples: DS-2019, I-20, I-797A/B). The visa stamp in your passport, as explained above, is only a travel document, and can expire while you are in the U.S.

There are two types of visa status: immigrant and non-immigrant. The International Services Office provides services to foreign nationals at TSRI in non-immigrant visa statuses that reflect the specific purpose for coming to the U.S temporarily.


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I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Also referred to as the Admission Record, the I-94 is a document retrieved from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) website. This is evidence that the visitor was inspected and legally admitted to the U.S.  Please be sure to download and check your I-94 record after each entry into the U.S.   Incorrect information indicated on the I-94 record needs to be corrected immediately.   Please see your advisor in the International Services Office for information on how to get the I-94 record corrected.

Prior to May 2013, I-94 admission information was located on a white card and often stapled into passports. If your last entry to the U.S. was prior to May 2013, your information may not appear on the I-94 retrieval website.

» I-94 Retrieval

Admission Stamp

The admission stamp is an oval red and blue ink stamp placed in the passport upon entry into the U.S. The USCBP Officer will hand write the immigration status (e.g. J-1, F-1, H-1B) and an "admit until date." Often, "D/S" will be written rather than a specific admit until date.

Example Admission Stamp:

Admission Stamp Sample

"D/S"

D/S stands for Duration of Status.  This means the foreign national can remain in the U.S. until the expiration date of their visa eligibility document. The visa eligibility document for individuals in F visa status is the Form I-20.  The visa eligibility document for individuals in J visa status is the Form DS-2019.  Foreign nationals in F visa status have a 60 day grace period to depart the U.S. after the completion of their program; those in J visa status have a 30 day grace period.

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Visa Eligibility Document

Along with the I-94, the visa eligibility document must be kept valid at all times while in the U.S. to avoid losing legal visa status. The eligibility document enables a foreign national to apply for a particular visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and for entry into the U.S. The following is a list of visa eligibility documents associated with the most common visa statuses used at TSRI:

Visa Description Visa Eligibility Document
F Full-time student in academic program I-20
J Full-time student, professor,
researcher or short-term scholar
DS-2019
H-1B Worker in Specialty Occupation I-797 Approval Notice
TN For Canadians and Mexicans
(Trade NAFTA)
Letter of Employment
O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability I-797 Approval Notice
B-1 Visitor for Business Invitation letter describing activities
WB VWP Visitor for Business Invitation letter describing activities


Non-Immigrant

A foreign national who seeks temporary entry to the U.S. for a specific purpose. The foreign national must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the non-immigrant classification sought.

EAD

Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) are issued by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to various classes of non-immigrants and pending immigrants including F-1 OPT, J-2, pending immigrants, refugees, asylees, and those in temporary protected status (TPS). EADs are List A document for I-9 work authorization purposes. Under no circumstances can foreign national in these visa status be employed in the U.S. at TSRI: B, WB, WT, and F-2.

SEVIS

SEVIS is an acronym for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.  This is a federal government database that allow schools, research institutes, USCIS, U.S. Embassies and Consulates, and U.S. ports of entry (POE) to exchange information regarding individuals in F-1, F-2, J-1, and J-1 visa status.  SEVIS tracks and monitors the arrival, activity in U.S., and departure of individuals in F and J visa status.

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