What is F-1 Status?
To be in F-1 status means that you are legally in the U.S. and have benefits and restrictions specified in the immigration regulations for the F-1 visa category. You gain status either by entering the U.S. with F-1 documents or, for people already in the U.S. in a different status, by applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status.
How do I maintain F-1 Status?
What documents do I need to keep with me?
You must keep your passport valid at all times.
The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permitted you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.
This document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are outside the U.S, apply for F-1 status within the U.S., enter and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility for various F-1 benefits.The I-20 indicates the institution in which you are permitted to study, your program of study, and the dates of eligibility. The I-20 must remain valid at all times.
When you enter the U.S. you are issued either an admission stamp in your passport or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. In summer of 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transitioned to electronic arrival/departure records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards. Students can print their I-94 card by visiting http://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. Your passport number is needed in order to obtain your I-94 card online. This tool also enables students to view their travel history - a helpful tool while applying for OPT.