Important Documents


The Passport is a document issued by your home country government. It is your responsibility to keep your passport valid at all times. Although passport renewal procedures vary, all passports should be renewed 6 months prior to the expiration date.

If you need to renew your passport while you are in the United States you must request to renew it at your consulate in New York City or your Embassy in Washington D.C.  Check online for the renewal procedures at the Consulate or Embassy for your home country.

I-94 Arrival Departure Card

U.S. Immigration officials issue an I-94 Arrival/Departure record when you enter the United States.  Each I-94 has a number.  This is your student admission ID number.  At the airport, this is an electronic I-94.  It is available immediately online at If you arrived at a land border, this document is a white card.  The I-94 was stapled into your passport when you entered the U.S. at the Port of Entry. It shows place of entry, date of entry, your type of visa status and how long you are eligible to stay in the United States.  Students in F-1 or J-1 status are usually allowed to remain in the U.S. for the duration of status (D/S). The actual ending date of your D/S is the completion date listed on the I-20   When you depart the United States, the I-94 card will be taken from you by airline officials and returned to the USCIS. 

EXCEPTION: When you travel to Canada, Mexico or Caribbean Islands, you do not surrender the I-94 if your visit there is less than 30 days.

I-20 Form

The I-20 is a document issued to students who plan to enroll for a full degree or certificate program.  After you have been admitted to Montclair State University, you must obtain an I-20 form from International Services. The I-20 form is required before you can apply for an F1 student visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, or request a change to F-1 student status within the U.S., or transfer from one U.S. college to another.

International Students must have the I-20 with them when entering the U.S.  The I-20 contains the name of the college you are attending, the program of study you were admitted to, and the expected date of completion of the program.  The I-20 is no longer valid if the date of completion (under item 5) has expired.  If you will not finish your program of study by the end date on your I-20, you must submit a completed Program Extension Form before the completion date.


Visas to enter the United States are issued by American Consulate abroad-- usually in your home country.  (It is stamped in your passport)  It is not possible to obtain a visa stamp inside the United States.

A visa allows the holder to apply for entry into the United States at the Port of Entry.  In issuing a Form I-94 card at the Port of Entry, USCIS grants permission to enter the United States, and grants status. The following information is listed on the visa: date issued; date the visa expires; type of visa; where it was issued; and how often the visa can be used (multiple or single).

After the USCIS admits the person into the United States, the validity date of the visa no longer matters. It must only be valid to enter the United States.  After entry into the U.S. the visa holder must maintain valid status by following the rules associated with their respective visa status.

Immigration Status – D/S Duration of Status

A student who possesses a student visa (F-1) or an exchange visa (J-1) is referred to as a non-immigrant student since they are here on a temporary visa rather than a permanent visa such as a permanent resident (green card holder). A nonimmigrant student may be admitted for duration of status (D/S).  This means that you are authorized to stay in the United States for the entire length of time during which you are enrolled as a full time student in an education program and any period of authorized practical training plus sixty days for F-1 students.

You will find the completion or expiration date of your permission to stay listed under item 5 on your I-20 form. If you need more time to complete your program, you must apply for a program extension before the completion date expires. You may continue from one educational level to another by following the procedures for Change of Degree Level