Immigration Document Glossary

Consular visa stamp

The consular visa stamp represents permission to travel to the U.S. It indicates the date until which a student may enter or re-enter the U.S. It does not indicate how long the student may remain in the U.S. That amount of time will be specified on your Form I-94 and on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. Visas may be obtained only outside the U.S. at an American Embassy or Consulate.

F-1 visa status

International students usually study in the U.S. on either an F-1 visa or a J-1 visa. Both require full-time study. Students obtain an F-1 visa by visiting a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and presenting a Form I-20 certificate of eligibility issued by MIT. On the Form I-20, the International Student Advisor certifies to the Consul and Immigration officials that the student has adequate English language proficiency and adequate financial resources, and is academically qualified to attend the school to which he or she has been accepted.

Form I-20 and Form DS-2019

On these forms, an International Student Advisor certifies that a student has adequate English language proficiency and adequate financial resources, and is academically qualified to attend the school to which he or she has been accepted. Students cannot let the date of completion of studies on these forms expire, and must apply for an extension 60 days in advance.

Form I-94

The Form I-94 is the Arrival/Departure record issued by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office to foreign visitors entering the U.S. The Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is gathered automatically by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency from your electronic travel record at the Port of Entry into the U.S. To download all the information on your electronic Form I-94 record, go to: (Note: Students who travel by land into the U.S. will still be issued a white paper Form I-94 card.) It is extremely important for you to check your Form I-94 admission record each time you enter the U.S. to help maintain status verification.

For students in F-1 or J-1 status (and their dependent F-2 and J-2 status holders), your Form I-94 record should be marked “D/S” (duration of status). The “D/S” means that you will be in legal status only as long as you are a full-time student pursuing the same degree that is specified on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and your document is valid. Please pay attention to the completion date that appears on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. If you ignore this date and let your form expire, you will lose your legal status. If you find that you will not be able to complete the program by that date, you should contact the ISO at least 60 days before the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 is about to expire in order to apply for an extension.

J-1 visa status

Students sponsored by their government, international agencies, and sometimes students sponsored by MIT are issued a certificate of eligibility called a Form DS-2019. A student who presents this form and other appropriate documentation to the American consular officer receives a J-1 (exchange visitor) visa.


Before you come to the U.S. your government issues you a passport that allows you to leave and re-enter your country. Your passport must be valid at all times.

Before your passport’s expiration date you must have it revalidated by your country’s nearest Consulate. In order to ensure a timely extension it is wise to apply as far in advance as your home country allows.

Consulates can be located on the U.S. Department of State Contact Info for Foreign Embassies & Consulates page.

If you are required to interact in person with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly BCIS or INS) you should bring your passport with you. If you are mailing forms, never mail your passport.


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.