Your Immigration Documents

As an F-1 student, your immigration status is reflected by the following documents:


Your passport documents your identity and nationality. This document is issued by your country of citizenship and must be valid at least six months into the future at all times when you are in the U.S. To extend or renew your passport in the U.S. you will need to contact the Consulate or Embassy for your home country. 

Your legal name as reflected in your passport is used as the basis for your SEVIS record and the “legal name” field in your Emerson Banner (eCommon) record. If you wish to modify your name as reflected in other U.S. legal documents (including your I-20, I-94, Social Security Number, etc.) you must first update your name in your passport.

Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status)

Your Form I-20 is a document issued by Emerson College through the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS), reflecting your eligibility for F-1 student status. The I-20 summarizes your biographical information, program of study and length, and expected funding.

Updated I-20s may be issued throughout your time in F-1 status to reflect changes to your personal information or academic program.

F-1 Visa

The U.S. visa in your passport is granted by the U.S. Department of State to reflect preliminary clearance to travel to the U.S. for a specific purpose — the F-1 visa is approved for the purpose of full-time study. The visa is a travel document that must be valid on the date you intend to enter the U.S. but may expire while you are in the U.S. without impacting your ability to remain in the U.S.

The length of your visa is based on reciprocity agreements with your country of citizenship.

See: 10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Student Visa.

Passport Entry Stamp

When you make an entry to the U.S. and present documents requesting entry in a specific category (for F-1 status, your visa and I-20), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will determine if you can be granted “admission” to the U.S. in the status you are requesting. If admitted, your passport should be stamped to reflect your admission status and the duration of your permitted stay. For entry as a student, your passport should be marked to show F-1 status for “D/S” (duration of status).

See: What is My Duration of Status?

If you are admitted without a passport stamp, with an incorrect status, or with a date-certain end date, please reach out to OISA staff for assistance in requesting a correction.

I-94 Arrival Record

In addition to stamping your passport to reflect your class of admission and duration of permitted stay, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will also enter your admission electronically into the I-94 entry/exit system.

You can print out a copy of your electronic I-94 or your history of travel to and from the U.S. at: A printed copy of your I-94 or reference to your I-94 record number may be needed for many transactions including completing a Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, or when applying for a U.S. Social Security Number, or filing a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

If you are an F-1 student approved for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you will receive an Employment Authorization Document or “EAD” reflecting the type of U.S. work permission you have been granted and the dates for which you may work.

An EAD may also be issued to persons in other immigration classifications who have applied for U.S. work permission using the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.