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International Education & Development

Review of Immigration Documents


A Review of Immigration Documents

I-94? Admission Number? D/S? Visa? DS-2019?

All these terms can get confusing for an international student. In this section, we will explain the important documents and terms. Look at the documents that you do have, and make sure all the information on them is correct.





A passport is a document issued by your government which certifies your identity and nationality. The passport Biography or ID page has your surname (last name), given (first) name, date of birth, sex, place of birth, and nationality.

Look at the date of expiry, you should plan to renew or extend your passport at least six months before it expires. If you travel on an expired/soon to expire passport, it may cause difficulties.




U.S. Visa

After applying at the U.S. Consulate abroad, and successfully passing the requirements, a US Visa will be placed inside your passport. A US visa is used for entry to the United States only; at the US port-of-entry (in the airport) the US Immigration Inspector will make the final decision about your admission to the US.

Review your visa as soon as you get it at the US Embassy or Consulate abroad.

  • Check the spelling of your name, and your birth date on your visa.
  • Make sure the passport number matches your passport, and the SEVIS number matches what is on the upper right side of your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • The annotation section should state you will attend Western Oregon University (unless you are a continuing F-1 student which transferred to WOU*).
  • The visa type/class section should have an “R” meaning regular citizen passport, and should have your visa type such as “F-1” or “J-1” if you are a student. A dependent’s visa should read the visa type such as “F-2” or “J-2”.
  • Under entries, it should have an “M” meaning multiple entries or a number. Entries means how many times that visa is valid for entry into the US.
  • Finally look at the expiration date. The expiration date is the last day you can use your visa to seek entry to the US. It has nothing to do with how long you may stay in the US. What determines how long you can stay in the US is your SEVIS record (I-20 or DS-2019) and I-94 card. Even if you have an expired visa, you may stay in the US as long as you maintain status. If you exit the US, you will need to renew your visa (unless traveling for 30 days or less to Canada, Mexico, or certain adjacent islands).

*A J-1 Exchange Visitor should only enter the US with the visa that has the school's (or program) name noted on it, even if the visa has not yet expired. If you change schools or programs, you must obtain a visa with the new program name noted on it before entering or re-entering the US.



example I20 example DS-2019


I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS Document

The I-20 (for F visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J visa holders) is an immigration document given to applicants by a government approved school, which certifies that the applicant has been  admitted to a full-time study program and that they have demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the US. Dependents will be issued a “Dependent I-20 or DS-2019” to obtain a dependent visa.


An I-20 or DS-2019 is issued after an international applicant is admitted to Western Oregon University. The admitted student’s name, birth date, citizenship, nationality, program information, and funding are entered into a US government database called SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The number in the upper-right corner is the student’s individual SEVIS Number.


Any change to the information on the I-20 or DS-2019 needs to be reported within 10 days to the Designated School Official (DSO) who is the International Student Advisor or SEVIS Coordinator. Updates or changes to the I-20 or DS-2019 will be entered into the SEVIS system and a new I-20 or DS-2019 will be produced. All immigration documents should be kept and not thrown away- they may be needed later to prove your immigration history.  Failure to maintain and keep your I-20/DS-2019 updated may result in losing your immigration status.


The terms and conditions of an F-1 or J-1 student are listed on page 2 of the I-20 and page 2 of the DS-2019. It is important that F-1 or J-1 students read this page to understand the rules that apply to their stay in the US, however some of the procedures have changed so contact the ISSA office to discuss your situation.



i-94 example

I-94 Card

The I-94 Form is a white card, usually distributed on the airplane before landing at the port-of-entry to the US, which is stapled into your passport. Since you personally fill it out, it is important that you complete it correctly. To correct a mistake it costs around $320 dollars!!!

The I-94 form has you write your family name, first (given) name, birth date (day/month/year) and country of citizenship. Make sure you write clearly, in ink, so that the information matches your passport. Most mistakes are made in the birth date’s order.

The officer will check your documents, and stamp the I-94 card with aclassification of “F-1” or “J-1” and the code “D/S”, meaning Duration of Status*. The stamp will state the date and port you entered the US.


If you notice any mistakes, or if the officer forgets to stamp the I-94, you should correct it IMMEDIATELY! It is much easier to make the necessary corrections at the Port of Entry upon arrival rather than later. It is always okay to ask questions if you are unsure.


*Duration of Status means that students may stay in the country until the completion of their program, as long as the student always maintains legal F-1 or J-1 status. This is true even if the visa has expired.


The 11-digit number on the I-94 is called your "admission” or “departure number". This number and your SEVIS number are used by the USCIS to identify you during your stay in the US. When you leave the US (unless traveling to Canada, Mexico, or certain adjacent islands for less than 30 days) your I-94 card should be removed from your passport to mark your departure. A new I-94 will be given to you when you reenter the US.



NSEERS and Special Registration

Some students may be required to register in program called Special Registration, based on a variety of factors including country of citizenship or birth. If you are subject to Special Registration, you should be given instructions on a special departure procedure you must follow in the future, and your I-94 card will be notated with a "FIN Number or NSEERS."



Documents to bring to the U.S.

Plan to bring with you to the United States any important documents that relate to your legal, medical, and academic history. You should bring notarized/certified copies of the original document with the notarized/certified English translation:

  • Official copy of birth certificate or birth certificates for any children
  • Copy of marriage certificate (if married)
  • Medical and dental records, including certificates of immunizations and vaccinations (especially important for dependent children)
  • Prescriptions for medications and eyeglasses
  • Information about medical conditions or treatments
  • Official transcripts from secondary schools, colleges, or universities
  • Course descriptions of classes taken outside the U.S.
  • International driver's license


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