F-1 Immigration Documents
As an international student in the U.S., you were issued documents related to your immigration status. You should always keep these documents safe and make photocopies of them just in case they are lost. When you first enter Berklee, International Student Services (ISS) will request copies of your F-1 visa, the biographical page of your passport, and your first U.S. port-of-entry stamp.
Passport: This is the identity and travel document issued by your home government. Be sure that your passport is valid throughout the duration of your time in the U.S. If you renew your passport, please bring it to ISS so that we can make a copy.
F-1 student visa: This is your entry permit issued by the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
- The visa must be valid on your date of entry to the U.S.
- Your visa can expire while you are in the U.S. You do not need and cannot obtain a new U.S. visa while physically present in the U.S.
- If your visa expires and you are outside the U.S., you must get a new one before you return to the U.S. The visa is only used to enter the U.S. It does not have anything to do with permission to remain in the U.S.
- The U.S. Department of State prefers that you apply for a new visa in your home country. If you choose to apply in a country other than your home country, you must be able to document a valid reason for your request and be prepared for a lengthy stay while the visa request is being reviewed. If the visa is denied, you will not be permitted to return to the U.S. prior to returning to your home country.
- Passport holders from Canada or Bermuda are exempt from the visa requirement and need to show only the Form I-20 and proof of I-901 fee payment at the U.S. port of entry to enter in F-1 status.
Form I-20: This is the form issued to you by Berklee, which contains your biographical and academic information; it allows you to apply for an F-1 student visa.
- You may not remain in the U.S. past the academic program end date on the Form I-20.
- When you sign the Form I-20 before applying for your visa, you are swearing to the U.S. government that you have read and understood all the information on page 3.
- Before departing from the U.S. for a vacation or break, you must receive a travel endorsement from an international advisor in ISS.
- A travel signature on page 2 is valid for 12 months.
U.S. port-of-entry stamp (D/S endorsement): When you enter the U.S., a port-of-entry officer will inspect your passport, visa, I-20, and I-901 fee payment receipt, and stamp your passport with "F-1; D/S." This means that you may remain in the U.S. for the "duration of your status," meaning for as long as you are maintaining legal student status and you have a valid I-20. You should always check that your endorsement reads "D/S." If it does not, please contact ISS immediately.
Do not lose or throw away any of these documents.
F-1 Visa Applications
A valid F-1 visa is required to enter the U.S. Once you are within the U.S. and are maintaining legal status, the visa may expire without consequence to your immigration status. You do not need and cannot obtain a new U.S. visa while physically present in the U.S. If you need a new visa, you may apply for one when you travel to your home country.
If you choose to apply in a country other than your home country, you must be able to document a valid reason for your request and be prepared for a lengthy stay while the visa request is being reviewed. If the visa is denied, you will not be permitted to return to the U.S. prior to returning to your home country. The U.S. Department of State website has more information on how to make a visa application appointment.
Passport holders from Canada or Bermuda are exempt from the visa requirement and need to show only the Form I-20 and proof of I-901 fee payment at the U.S. port of entry to enter in F-1 status.
Please seek guidance from your international student advisor in ISS for information concerning your visa status. Do not rely on friends, relations, or other students for information as they are often mistaken or do not have a complete understanding of your specific academic and immigration situation. ISS will make every effort to keep you informed of pertinent regulations; however, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining valid F-1 status. Falling out of valid status can affect your career and life for years to come.