Foreign students are admitted to the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the purpose of being a full-time student.  It is the student's responsibility to keep informed about immigration rules and regulations and any changes that may occur during their stay in the US.  Any participation in activities outside of school from employment to vacation is considered a privilege and is only allowable under strict DHS rules. The penalty for violating any of these immigration laws can be quite severe, including deportation and a bar from reentry to the US for 10 years.  Therefore it is extremely important that students understand their responsibilities.

A number of documents must be kept current while the foreign student is residing in the US.  These include the following:

Document Type Description


The passport is the legal document issued by your country of citizenship. It must be kept valid at all times during your stay in the US and must be valid at least 6 months into the future to re-enter the US or apply for a visa. The passport can usually be renewed through your home country's Embassy or Consulate in the United States.

Certificate of Eligibility

I-20 or DS-2019

The I-20 (for F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for J-1 status) is the document issued by your school or a sponsoring agency. It is specific to the institution and program of study you will attend in the US. It must be presented to the US Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain an entry visa and to immigration officials to enter the US in student status. Extensions or updates may be made by contacting the Office of the Registrar or your sponsoring agency. After your initial entry, a travel signature less than 6 months old is required in order to re-enter the US in student status. Signatures may be obtained in the Registrar's office at Marywood.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

The I-94 is the white card completed before passing US immigration officials upon entrance to the US. It will be stamped with your date and port of entry. Your immigration status and expiration date will also be noted on the card. For F-1 students, the "expiration date" should be D/S, or duration of status, not an actual date. This means F-1 students are permitted to remain in the US as long as they have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, are enrolled in the institution and academic program listed on the form, and have otherwise maintained their immigration status. Students who receive an I-94 card with an actual expiration date should contact the Registrar's Office immediately. The number at the top of the I-94 card that you receive upon each entry, is called your Admission Number or I-94 Number.

Entry Visa

The US entry visa is a sticker on a page of your passport which permits you to enter the US. Students will have either an F-1 entry visa. The visa may expire while you are in the US. You cannot and need not renew it while you are here. A new entry visa will be required if the original expires and you travel outside and then wish to re-enter the US. in legal student status.

You Must Always:

  1. Maintain a valid passport throughout your stay in the US.
  2. Attend the school you are authorized to attend by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the school whose name appears on the I-20 or DS-2019.
  3. Be registered as a full-time student
  4. Keep your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form) valid at all times and apply for extensions of stay one month before the document expires.
  5. The "off campus residence" address must be completed with your current US residential address (except for undergraduate students living on campus). "Permanent address" must be an address in your home country. Students on post-completion work authorization should e-mail address updates directly to the Office of International Affairs. (
  6. Complete necessary immigration transfer procedures when changing from one school to another in the US.  Keep local and permanent address information current while in the US. and inform the foreign student advisor at your current school of your intent to transfer.
  7. Maintain valid health insurance coverage. For students in F-1 status, this is a Marywood requirement.
  8. If you are in F-1 status and intend to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) after the completion of your program, apply for OPT prior to your program completion.
  9. Do one of the following within 60 days of completion or termination of the program of study (Note that students only have 30 days):
    1. Leave the US.
    2. Change to another immigration status.
    3. Get a new Certificate of Eligibility for a new school or program and enroll in the next possible semester (consult the International Affairs Office for details).


You Must Never:

  1. WORK OFF CAMPUS unless you have the necessary authorization from the Human Resources office.
  2. WORK ON CAMPUS more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  3. Take a leave of absence, withdraw from classes, or drop below 12 credits without receiving advance permission from the Registrar's office.


Note that once you have completed or terminated your program, or have failed to maintain legal student status, you can no longer legally enter the US with your I-20 or DS-2019 form.