Visas and Documentation

Understanding SEVIS and your F1/J1 Documents

Understanding SEVIS

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an electronic system by which student and scholar data is transmitted directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS). On October 1, 2001, a U.S. law passed called the "Patriot Act" that mandated schools to use SEVIS to report certain data on individuals with F-1 and J-1 status to the government.

There are three main components of SEVIS:

  1. Production of the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)
  2. Maintaining current F-1 and J-1 records
  3. Reporting events

Reporting events include:

  • Your name, date of birth, country of birth and citizenship, source and amount of financial resources and program start and end dates
  • Your arrival and enrollment at CC or failure to enroll
  • A change in your legal name or address
  • Graduation prior to the end date listed on your I-20
  • Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction
  • Registration of less than a full course of study (less than 3 blocks per semester) without prior authorization
  • Termination date and reason
  • Failure to complete your academic program

Your F-1/J-1 Immigration Documents


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

  • At the time of entering the U.S., passport should be valid six month beyond the intended period of stay in the U.S.
  • Must remain valid at all times while in the U.S.
  • May be renewed at your country's embassy/consulate in the U.S.

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) for Nonimmigrant Student Status

Legal document issued by a U.S. school through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SEVIS database. It documents acceptance in a full course of study at the institution and proof of sufficient funds for the program.

  • Used to apply for an F-1/J-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad.
  • Must be presented at the U.S. port of entry every time one seeks to enter the U.S. in F-1/J-1 student status.
  • It is valid only for the period of time specified on the form and only for the academic program at the school indicated on the form.
  • All changes in information must be reported to ISSS within 10 days of the change. ISSS will issue a new document if necessary.
  • Retail all I-20/DS-2019 forms issued to you as they are required to document maintenance of status and may be requested for future benefit application.

I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt

Payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee is documented with the Form I-797C Notice of Action. You must print the receipt at the time of payment and bring it with you to your visa appointment and when you seek to enter the U.S.


The entry visa is a sticker with your photo and biographical information that is placed in your passport by a U.S. Embassy abroad. It permits the individual to request permission to enter the U.S. in a particular immigration status for a specific purpose at a U.S. port of entry.

  • May expire in the U.S. as long as all of the immigration documents are valid and up-to-date.
  • Can only be renewed at a U.S. embassy/consulate outside the U.S.
  • You must have a valid visa to enter the U.S. (exception: Automatic Visa Revalidation)
  • Visa validity does not necessarily reflect the duration of one's status in the U.S.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

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 the visitor's basic demographic information; entry port and date; class of admission (e.g., F-1), and Admit Until Date (D/S: Duration of Status for F-1/J-1 student programs).

  • Review your I-94 arrival record every time you re-enter the U.S. to confirm that your entry was recorded properly as Customs and Border Protection sometimes make mistakes that require correction.

Duration of Status

Your visa expiration date does not determine your permitted length of stay in the United States. Your I-94 arrival record will indicate the date by which you must depart the U.S. As an F-1/J-1 student, you will most likely be admitted for duration of status (D/S) which means you may remain in the U.S. for the duration of your program as indicated on your I-20/DS-2019 as long as you are maintaining your nonimmigrant student status.

  • For F-1 students in valid status, permission to stay in the U.S. ends 60 days from the program end date on your I-20 form unless you are beginning a new program or changing status.
  • For J-1 students in valid status, permission to stay in the U.S. ends 30 days from the program end date on your DS-2019 form unless you are beginning a new program or changing status.
Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020