Immigration Documents

F-1 students are required to provide valid immigration documents when you enter the United States and maintain valid immigration documents throughout your stay here in the U.S.  

We recommend carrying original immigration documents whenever you travel outside of Buffalo. 


Identification document issued by one’s country of citizenship that certifies an individual’s legal identity and nationality.

  • Your passport must be valid at all times. Passports should be valid for at least six months into the future when entering and re-entering the U.S. and also when applying for a visa (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
  • May be renewed at your country’s embassy/consulate in the U.S. To renew from within the United States, contact your local embassy. If you need a letter confirming that you are enrolled at the University at Buffalo, you can request an enrollment verification from the Office of the Registrar.
  • Report a lost or stolen passport to the police because your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To replace a lost or stolen passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S.
  • If you receive an updated or new passport while here as an F-1 student, please submit a copy to ISS. Log in to UB Global, click General ISS Requests and complete the Document Upload e-form.
Sample Passport.

Keep your passport valid and up to date.


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

Legal document issued by a U.S. school through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SEVIS database. The I-20 confirms acceptance to an institution for a full course of study and proof of sufficient funds for the program.

  • Used to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad. Prospective students need information from their I-20 to pay the required SEVIS (I-901) Fee
  • Must be presented at the U.S. port of entry each time one seeks to enter the U.S in F-1 status.
  • It is valid only for the period of time specified on the form (refer to program start and end date) and only for the academic program at the school indicated on the I-20. Your program end date is estimated and must be updated if you complete the program earlier or require an I-20 extension.
  • All changes in information on the I-20 must be reported to ISS within 10 days of the change. A new I-20 is necessary in all of the following situations:
Sample I-20.

Don't forget to sign your name on page one.

When to Request a New I-20:

  • If your major field of study, funding source or any other information on your I-20 changes, you must request a new I-20. To do so, log in to UB Global and submit the "I-20 Reprint Request" e-form.
  • If your legal name changes you must report the name change. An updated passport, reflecting your name change is required to update the I-20.
    • To update your name in HUB: report the change to the Office of the Registrar using their online form.
    • To request an updated I-20 log in to UB Global and submit the "I-20 Reprint Request" e-form 
  • To re-enter the U.S., the travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 must be valid.  The travel signature is valid for one year for enrolled students and 6 months for students on OPT. For more information visit our page on travel endorsement.

Keep copies all I-20s that are issued to you as they are required to document maintenance of status and may be requested for future benefit applications.

What Kind of I-20 Do You Have?

Refer to page 1 of your I-20, section titled "FORM ISSUE REASON" to determine what kind of I-20 you have.


The visa is a stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permits you to apply for admission to the U.S. as an F-1 student, and does not need to remain valid while you are in the U.S. (Canadian citizens do not have visa stamps.)

  • May expire while you are in the U.S. as long as all other immigration documents are valid
  • Can only be renewed at a U.S. embassy/consulate outside the U.S.
  • Must have a valid visa to enter the U.S. (exception: Automatic Revalidation)
  • Visa validity does not necessarily reflect the duration of one’s status in the U.S.
Sample F-1 Visa.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers create an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to document the admission of international visitors at the U.S port of entry, or in some instances a Pre-Clearance location abroad.

The arrival record indicates a visitor’s basic demographic information; entry port and date; class of admission (e.g., F1), and Admit Until Date (D/S: Duration of Status for F-1 students).

You should download, save, and print a copy of your I-94 on the CBP website. Whenever you enter the US, you should save a copy of your I-94 for your records and review your I-94 every time you re-enter the U.S. to confirm that your entry was recorded properly.  Sometimes Customs and Border Protection makes mistakes that require correction.

If your I-94 information is incorrect you must:

  • Scan your I-20, Passport, Visa, I-94 and Admission Stamp (if available) into one PDF and attach it in an email to
  • Include a short description of the error in your email (name misspelling, incorrect date of birth, etc.).

It may take a few business days to hear back from CBP. If they have any questions, they will contact you directly via email so please be sure to check your email regularly.

Sample I-94.

Double check the details on your I-94.