All F and M visa students have an important set of documents to keep track of while they are in the United States. The following tabs provide more specific information on each one, including what to do in the event they are lost or expire.


Your passport is issued by your country of citizenship, and must be carried whenever you travel outside the United States. The information on your I-20 form, I-94 card, and other official documents normally must match the information in your passport.

Non-immigrants are required to have a passport that is valid for at least 6-months went entering the United States. Students should ensure that the passport is valid during their stay. Be sure to check the expiration date on your passport and plan to renew it if it will expire. The International Programs (IP) Office recommends that you allow at least 6 months to renew your passport while in the United States. To renew your passport, please contact the closest embassy or consulate for your country of citizenship.

Lost / Stolen Passport

If you lose your passport while in the United States, or if your passport is stolen, take steps immediately to replace it. Notify the International Programs (IP) Office that your passport is missing, and then contact your embassy or consulate as soon as possible to find out what steps to take to replace it. If your passport was stolen, file a police report with the local police office.

I-20 Form

All current international students on F-1 visas must have an I-20 form. This form was issued to you when you were admitted to the college.

The I-20 form indicates the start and end dates of your program, your level of study, your major, the financial cost of your program, and the source of your financial support (please see information below on individual sections of the I-20 form). The third page of the I-20 form is also used for special endorsements, such as travel signatures and authorization for off-campus employment.

Student Responsibility for I-20 Information

As an F-1 visa student, it is your responsibility to make sure that the information on your I-20 form is accurate and up-to-date. It is highly recommended that you keep all original I-20 forms issued by Seattle Central and by other schools. We also recommend that you make back-up copies for their records.


The Department of Homeland Security may ask you to show copies of your previous I-20 forms when you apply for work permission, or if you apply for some other immigration-related benefit (for example, OPT, change of visa status, or reinstatement).

Note that copies of the documents in student files are for Seattle Central use only. The International Programs (IP) Office will not make copies of documents in student files for student use, including the I-20 form. If you lose your I-20 form while you are still enrolled at Seattle Central, your advisor can print a replacement copy through SEVIS.

Sections of the I-20 Form

Personal Information

Review all personal information, including name (first, last, middle), date of birth, country of birth and country of citizenship to make sure it is accurate. The information on your I-20 form should match the information in your passport. If you feel any information must be changed, please contact your advisor for assistance.

Program Start / End Dates

The dates should indicate the start and end of your current program of study. Advisors do not track the end date for each student’s I-20 form, so it is very important that you know when your program will end. If you do not finish your program of study before the end date, you may be in violation of your student status. If you are close to the end date of your program and believe you will not have enough time to graduate or finish your program, request an extension as soon as possible.

Program of Study and Major or Level of Program

The program of study should reflect your current major. Because SEVIS limits what can be put in this field, the major listed may not match your intended major exactly. Also, if you are in a college transfer program, the major listed might reflect the classes you are taking, and not the major you will eventually complete in your 4-year degree. If you plan to change your program of study, or your major, request a change of major as soon as possible.

Level of Program

Your I-20 form will have one of three program levels:

- Language Study (for students in ESL only)
- Associate (for University Transfer, IP Short-Term Certificate, High School Completion Plus, or Career Training programs)
- Bachelor's (for the Bachelor of Applied Science degree programs)

Normally, you will not change program levels unless your program of study will be different from the one which you applied for. Your level of program will be determined by your advisor when you request a change of program.

Financial Information

The financial information listed on the I-20 form reflects the estimate for tuition, fees, living expenses and miscellaneous expenses at the time you were admitted to Seattle Central. It also shows the amount of funds guaranteed by you or your sponsor, and the source of your funds (e.g., Family, US Sponsor, etc.). If your source of funding has changed, you must notify your primary advisor as soon as possible so your I-20 form can be updated.


The I-20 form should be signed on the front page by the person who issued the form. It should also be signed and dated by you, and by your parent / guardian if you are under the age of 18.

If you plan to travel outside the United States and return as an F-1 student, make sure that you have a travel signature on page 2 of the I-20 form (please see the section on Travel for more information).


Most students enrolled as an international student at Seattle Central will have an F-1 or M-1 visa in their passport. If you applied for a change of status in the United States from a different visa category, you might not.

The F-1 / M-1 visa is used to enter the United States to study at a college or university.

Visa Renewals

If you wish to renew their F or M visa, you must do so outside the United States: it is not possible to renew the F or M visa in the United States. Typically, you must apply for a new visa in your home country, and not in a different country where you permanently reside.

When to Renew a Visa

If you plan to remain in the United States for the full duration of your studies, then it is not necessary for your visa to remain valid. As long as your I-20 form has not expired, and you are maintaining student status (full-time study, satisfactory progress, etc.), then your visa can expire with no consequences.

Your visa must be valid if you plan to travel outside the United States, and re-enter the country as an F-1 student. If your visa is not valid at the time you re-enter, then you may not be allowed to return to the United States.

Exception: F-1 and M-1 students may normally re-enter the United States after a visit of less than 30 days to Canada or Mexico, so long as they have a passport, I-94 card, and signature on page 2 of their I-20 form. The visa does not have to be valid. There are exceptions to this situation – please speak with an advisor in the International Programs (IP) Office if you have additional questions.

I-94 Admission Record

When an F-1 student enters the United States, USCBP will create an Arrival and Departure Record, referred to as the I-94 Admission Record.

If you arrive in the United States by air or by sea, you will have an electronic I-94 Admission Record. If you make your initial entry to the United States through a land border (for example, drive into the country from Canada), you will be issued a paper I-94 Admission Record. In both cases, the USCBP Officer will stamp your passport with the date of entry, visa class of admission, and the date you must depart the United States. The electronic record will include your name and the same information indicated with the passport stamp. Note that F-1 students are admitted for Duration of Status, which allows them to stay in the United States as long as their I-20 form is still valid.

If you need view your electronic I-94 Admission Record, or to print a copy, it can be accessed on USCBP’s website: If you have a paper copy of your I-94 Admission Record, keep it stapled in your passport opposite your F-1 visa.

Additional information on the I-94 Admission Record can be found on USCBP’s website: