The I-20 is a Certificate of Eligibility that reflects the information in your SEVIS record. It lists your biographical information, program of study, expected degree completion date, estimated expenses, and source of funding. It also contains space for DSO-authorized benefits, like off-campus employment or reduced course load.
If you travel outside the U.S. after your initial entry, you must have a valid signature from a DSO on the second page of your I-20 to reenter.
The majors offered at the University of Arizona are all mapped to a corresponding standardized Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes, used by the U.S. Department of Education for reporting and record-keeping. The description for your major's CIP code is what displays under 'Major' on your I-20. In most cases, the description will not exactly match the actual name of your major.
SEVIS I-901 Fee
The SEVIS I-901 fee, paid to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), is separate from visa application fees. When you first receive your initial I-20, pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online. Print a copy of your receipt to bring to your visa interview. The fee is not required for SEVIS transfers or F-2 dependents.
If you already paid the SEVIS I-901 fee on a different SEVIS ID, you can request a transfer of the fee to your new SEVIS ID within 12 months of the initial SEVIS fee payment.
A valid visa is required for all new students entering the U.S., except citizens of Canada and Bermuda.
The expiration date on your visa is the last day you can use your visa to enter the U.S. It does not determine how long you can remain in the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you can remain in the country as long as your I-20 is valid and you are maintaining your student status.
If you leave the U.S. with an expired visa, you must renew it at an embassy or consulate outside the U.S. in order to reenter. Review these resources to learn more about applying for your student visa:
Student Entering the U.S. for the First Time
Customs and Border Protection may check that you plan to attend the school specified on your F-1 visa (or, for citizens of Canada or Bermuda, that you intend to attend the school that issued the I-20). This requirement applies only for initial entry in F-1 status.
Students Reentering the U.S.
As far as we are aware, as long as your F-1 visa is unexpired, you can use it with a new I-20, even if the SEVIS numbers do not match. You can read more about visa validity on the U.S. State Department website. For SEVIS transfers, the name of the new school does not need to match the school on your visa.
It is important to know that having a valid visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. Even with valid documents, entry is always at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection officers at the port-of-entry.
Third Country Visa Applications & Renewals
The Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. Third-country visa applications can take longer to process and refusal is more likely than at home, so you should plan well in advance of your date of travel. If you must travel to a third country to apply for or renew your visa, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country to confirm they will process applications for third-country nationals.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
Automatic visa revalidation allows eligible F-1 students to travel for less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island and reenter on an expired visa. You must have proper documentation and should not apply for a new visa during the visit. Automatic visa revalidation does not renew your current visa.
Port of Entry Stamp
When you enter the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection officer may stamp your passport. The port of entry stamp contains the date you entered, your visa category and D/S for the “admit until date”. D/S stands for Duration of Status. It means you may remain in the United States as long as your I-20 is valid and you are maintaining your student status. It also gives you a 60-day grace period to leave the U.S. at the end of your program.
Customs and Border Protection creates an I-94 record for every nonimmigrant who enters the U.S. The I-94 shows your date of entry, visa category, and D/S. After entering the U.S., you can access your electronic I-94 record on the CBP website.
Students Entering By Land: Within 7 days of entry through a land port of entry, you can apply and pay $6.00 for your I-94 online. Please be aware that the I-94 you obtain online is temporary and just the first step in completing the I-94 application. To obtain the final, legal-for-travel Form I-94, you will need to appear at a port of entry in person with your immigration documents. If you are entering via an airport, you do not need to apply for an I-94 in advance in order to access your record at the CBP website.
To access your electronic I-94 record after entry:
Go to the I-94 website.
From the menu at the top, click “Get Most Recent I-94.”
Enter all information exactly as it appears on your travel documentation you used to enter the U.S.
Click “Next” to get your most recent I-94 record.