• Passport and Visa
    Passport and Visa

    Your passport, visa and immigration status have different purposes and requirements allowing you to enter and stay in the United States. It is important that you maintain valid documents and status during your time in the U.S.

    Passport
    • Is issued by your country.
    • Must be valid at all times for at least six months into the future.
    • If you are currently in the U.S. and your passport is expiring, contact your country's consulate for procedures and processing time to renew or replace your passport while in the U.S. You may renew your passport from within the U.S.
    • If time allows during your home visit, renew your passport in your home country.
    • If your expired passport has a valid visa, you may use the valid visa in your expired passport. However, you will be required to show both your expired and new passports to the Port-of-Entry officer when you return to the U.S.
    Visa
    • Your visa is one requirement for your entry to the U.S. You should have valid visa, valid passport and supporting documents (including I-20 or DS-2019) when you enter to the U.S.
    • The visa stamp is placed on your passport (except Canadian citizen) by U.S. Consulate confirming your eligibility to apply for admission to the U.S. in that specific visa classification.
    • When you arrive to the U.S., the Port-of-Entry officer makes the final determination whether you are allowed to enter to the U.S. or not.
    • You can only apply for a visa only at a U.S. consulate abroad. The length of the validity of a visa is based on reciprocity agreements between your country and the U.S.
    • You may reside in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as you maintain your immigration status. The next time you leave the U.S., you will apply for visa renewal at the U.S Consulate abroad, prior to returning to the U.S.
    • A valid visa in the expired passport can be used along with a new unexpired passport.
      You may have more than one visa type in the passport but you can only use one status to enter to the U.S. When you return to the U.S. to continue with your same activity (such as study), you have to return in the same status.

    Immigration Status
    • You obtain your immigration status either through admission to the U.S. at the Port of Entry or through approval of change of status from USCIS.
    • When you enter the U.S. using your valid passport, valid visa and supporting documents (including I-20 or DS-2019), you are admitted by a Port-of-Entry officer in a specific immigration status. The officer stamps your passport and creates an electronic entry record called a Form I-94.
    • The I-94 record indicates your status (F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S) and the date and location of your arrival.
    • Duration of status (D/S) means that you have permission to remain in the U.S. for the length of your program as long as you maintain your status. If your I-94 is not marked D/S, you must immediately contact ISAP for further advisement.
    • Once you obtain your status, you have to maintain your status.
  • Lost or Stolen Immigration Documents
    Lost or Stolen Immigration Documents
    If your passport or visa is lost or stolen and you are in the U.S.:
    • Go to the local police station and report your document(s) lost or stolen. If you have copies of your documents, bring them with you. Keep a copy of the police report detailing the incident for your records.
    • You must request a replacement of your passport from your local embassy or consulate in the U.S. of your country of citizenship. Each country has a different procedure. Consult your home country's embassy or consulate for more details on what to do next.
    • If your visa stamp is lost or stolen when you are in the U.S., you can reside in the U.S. and continue your studies as long as you are maintaining your immigration status.
    • Report your visa stamp lost or stolen, email the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States which issued your visa. The next time you travel outside of the U.S., you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
    • Visas cannot be replaced in the U.S.
    If your passport or visa is lost or stolen and you are outside of the U.S.:
    • Consult your country of citizenship's ministry of foreign or consular affairs to determine how to apply for a replacement of your passport. Each country has a different procedure.
    • Report your visa stamp lost or stolen to the U.S. consulate or embassy that issued your visa for next steps. For a replacement, you will need to apply in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
    • If your I-20 or DS-2019 is lost, damaged or stolen, contact ISAP to request a replacement of your I-20 or DS-2019. If your DS-2019 is not issued by ISAP, please contact your J-1 Program Sponsor for replacement of your DS-2019. If your document is stolen, you may be asked to provide a police incident report.
    • For more information on lost or stolen immigration documents, visit the U.S. Department of State website and U.S. Homeland Security website.
  • I-94 Records
    I-94 Records

    An I-94 is an arrival and departure record that is issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, in either paper or electronic format, to foreign visitors entering the United States.

    • Most Arrival or Departure records are now created electronically upon arrival. Visitors are provided with an annotated stamp in their foreign passport.
    • If provided a paper form, the admitting CBP officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor's passport and stamps the departure date on the form.
    • Visitors must exit the U.S. on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.

    If a visitor departs by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), their departure from the U.S. can be independently verified and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to the outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass - if they still have it - can help facilitate reentry when coming back to the United States.

    If a visitor departs by land and has a paper form I-94, the I-94 must be turned in to a CBP officer at a land border when exiting the U.S. If it is not turned in to a CBP officer at the land border, the visitor will be considered an "overstay" and they may be denied entry when they attempt to reenter the United States in the future.

    For more information on the I-94 automation process, visit CBP.gov.

    Check your I-94

    Upon reentry, always check the admission stamp in your pass­port and electronic I-94. Make sure your I-94 accurately indicates your F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S status, the date and loca­tion of your arrival.

    If your I-94 is not marked with a D/S or Duration of Status or your I-94 cannot be retrieved from CBP.gov, you must immediately contact ISAP.

    Some students may receive a paper I-94 card from the Port of Entry or Form I-515. You must contact ISAP immediately before the date indicated on your I-94. Failure to do so will jeopardize your immigration status.

    Print your I-94

    Most students receive an entry stamp with the electronic arrival record (automated I-94).

    You can print your latest I-94 record and your arrival departure information. Do not use any other website link to retrieve your I-94.

  • Travel Signatures
    Travel Signatures

    Only a Designated School Official (DSO) at the University of West Georgia can sign your I-20 or DS-2019. Travel signatures must be obtained on your document before you travel outside of the USA. 

    You can stop by the ISAP office to request a travel signature. Be sure to request signatures early and be conscious of office hours. 

    Validity of Travel Signatures
     
    Status Document Length of Travel Signature Validity
    F-1 Enrolled Student Page 2 of I-20 Valid for 12 months from date signed or until the I-20 expiration date, whichever comes first.
    F-1 Post-Completion OPT  Page 2 of I-20 Valid for 6 months from the date signed or the EAD card expiration date, whichever comes first.
    J-1 Students Page 1 of DS-2019 Valid for 12 months from the date signed or until the DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first.

     

    • Status: F-1 Enrolled Student
      Document: Page 2 of I-20
      Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 12 months from date signed or until the I-20 expiration date, whichever comes first.

    • Status: F-1 Post-Completion OPT 
      Document: Page 2 of I-20
      Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 6 months from the date signed or the EAD card expiration date, whichever comes first.

    • Status: J-1 Students
      Document: Page 1 of DS-2019
      Length of Travel Signature Validity: Valid for 12 months from the date signed or until the DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first.

  • Travel Within the USA
    Travel Within the USA

    When you travel within the U.S. to any of the 50 states or to the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands), be prepared to take the following documents with you. 

    • Valid I-20 or DS-2019
    • Valid electronic I-94 printout or I-94 card
    • Valid passport

    You may be required to show your immigration documents to an officer of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There are several checkpoints throughout the U.S.

    • If your visa has expired, don't worry. You do not need a valid visa while traveling in the U.S. 
    • You do not need an updated travel signature if you are not entering the U.S. through a port of entry.
  • Travel Outside the USA
    Travel Outside the USA

    When planning to travel outside of the U.S., please check the travel endorsement page of your I-20/DS-2019 for a valid travel signature by a designated school official or alternate responsible officer from UWG ISAP office.

    • Signatures are valid for one year from the date of last signature, except for students on OPT.
    • If the signature will be expired on the date that you return to the U.S., students should submit a travel signature request to ISAP as soon as possible to obtain a valid travel signature.
    • If you plan to travel to a country other than your own, you should contact the consulate of that country to find out if you need a visa.
    • If your visa is expired or will not be valid when you return, you will need to renew your visa.

    You must have the following documents to return to the U.S. in student or exchange visitor status:

    • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
    • UWG I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature endorsed within 1 year.
    • Passport, valid six months into the future.
    • Enrollment verification and UWG unofficial transcript.

    After you arrive back in the U.S., you should check your I-94 record. 

  • Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands
    Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands

    F-1/J-1 visa holders whose visa has expired may be able to return to the U.S. after traveling to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. territories under the following conditions:

    • Visit is not more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only.
    • Student has maintained full-time F-1 status at all times.
    • Student has unexpired passport and unexpired I-94.
    • Student has I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel within a year or six months if on post-OPT.
    • Student has not applied for the visa during the visit.
    • Student is not from the countries that identified as State Sponsors of Terrorism by the Department of State.

    The automatic visa revalidation process re-validates that you are eligible to enter to the U.S. for this single trip. It is not considered a new admission to the U.S. nor a renewal of a visa.

    This benefit also applies to non-immigrants who have changed to F status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States.

  • Travel While on OPT
    Travel While on OPT

    Travel signatures, located on the back of the I-20, are valid for one year from the date of the last signature while attending school. Post-OPT travel signatures are valid for six months from the date of last signature.

    ISAP does not recommend traveling while an OPT application is pending with USCIS. We recommend that you wait until you have your EAD card before traveling. 

    If the signature will be expired on the date that you return to the U.S., students should submit a travel signature request to ISAP as soon as possible to obtain a valid travel signature.

    What to Take When Traveling

    You must take the following, to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:

    • Valid visa
    • I-20 with valid travel signature endorsed within one year, while attending school
    • Passport, valid six months into the future
    • Enrollment verification and  ASU unofficial transcript
    What to Take When Traveling While on Post-OPT

    You must take the following to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:

    • Valid visa
    • OPT authorized I-20 with valid travel signature endorsed within six months
    • Passport, valid six months into the future
    • Current EAD card
    • Job offer letter (if available)
    Traveling within the U.S. or to U.S. Territories

    You may be asked by an officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to show your immigration documents. Be sure you have your documents with you. We recommend that you keep them in a safe place.

    Traveling to a Country Other Than Your Own

    Students should contact the consulate of that country to find out if they will need a visa for that country. Search the list of foreign consulates in the U.S.

    Visa Renewal

    If you are planning to renew your expired student visa in your home country you must apply early and should expect delays. Submit your most current SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form to ISAP for travel endorsement at least 10 to14 days prior to departure.

    Documents needed for visa renewal purposes:

    • SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form with updated travel signature from ISAP
    • Passport, valid six months into the future
    • Financial guarantee (e.g., current semester TA/RA letter, bank statement obtained within the last six months, etc.)
    • Enrollment verification and  UWG unofficial transcript
    • Consult individual embassy websites for periodic updates on country-specific visa processing.
    Automatic Visa Renewal

    The automatic visa revalidation process re-validates that you are eligible to enter to the U.S. for this single trip. It is not considered a new admission to the U.S. nor a renewal of a visa.

    This benefit also applies to nonimmigrants who have changed to F status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States.

    F-1/J-1 visa holders whose visa has expired may be able to return to the U.S. after traveling to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. territories under the following conditions:

    • Visit is not more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only
    • Student has maintained full-time F-1 status at all times
    • Student has unexpired passport and unexpired I-94
    • Student has I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel within a year or six months if on post-OPT
    • Student has not applied for the visa during the visit
    • Student is not from the countries that identified as State Sponsors of Terrorism by the Department of State
    When you Return to the U.S.

    You should check your I-94 record.

  • Visa Renewals
    Visa Renewals

    If you are planning to renew your expired student visa in your home country you must apply early and should expect delays. Submit your most current SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form to ISAP for travel endorsement at least 10-14 working days prior to your departure.

    You'll need these documents to renew your visa:

    • SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form with an updated travel signature from ISAP.
    • Passport, valid six months into the future.
    • Financial guarantee (i.e., current semester TA/RA letter, bank statement obtained within the last six months).
    • Enrollment verification and UWG unofficial transcript.
    • Consult individual embassy websites for periodic updates on country-specific visa processing.
  • Friends and Family Visiting from Abroad
    Friends and Family Visiting from Abroad

    During their studies at UWG or to attend their graduation ceremony or university commencement, students may invite family members to visit for a short period of time

    Extended family, including parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, are not eligible for a dependent F-2 or J-2 visa.

    During the Semester or Short Break
    • Family members must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from the U.S. Consulate or come to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
    • Students can provide family members with a copy of their I-20 or DS-2019 along with an unofficial transcript so that they can show a tie with you and the reason for visiting the U.S. when they apply for the visa.
    During Graduation Ceremony

    Family members must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from the U.S. Consulate or come to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

    You may provide the follow documents to your family member so that they can show a tie with you and the reason for visiting the U.S. when they apply for the visa.

    • Copy of your I-20 or DS-2019
    • Unofficial UWG transcript (request through MyUWG)

    Please note that ISAP no longer provides graduation invitation support letters.