Office of International Education & Development


This section contains descriptions of your immigration documents, comprehensive F-1 and J-1 regulatory information, and a description of the electronic student and exchange visitor information system, SEVIS.

Important Immigration Documents and SEVIS

Your essential immigration documents are as follows:

I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1)

Issued by WOU, this document allows you to apply for an F-1 visa if you are outside the U.S, apply for F-1 status within the U.S., enter and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status, and prove your eligibility for various F-1 benefits. The I-20 indicates the institution in which you are permitted to study, your program of study, and the dates of eligibility. The I-20 must remain valid at all times. Allowing the I-20 to expire before you complete your academic program is a violation of F-1 status.

The I-20/DS-2019 is a printout from your SEVIS record. SEVIS is an internet-based database that stores information electronically throughout an F-1 or J-1 student’s academic career in the U.S. Each student has a unique SEVIS ID number, which is printed on your I-20/DS-2019 in the top right corner.


Your passport must be valid at all times. If it will expire during your studies it must be renewed 6 months in advance. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police because your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the U.S. 

US Visa

The visa is the stamp that the U.S. consular officer placed on a page in your passport. The visa permits you to apply for admission into the U.S. as an F-1/J-1 student, and need not remain valid while you are in the U.S. (Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa.) If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. there is no problem. However, the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new F/J visa before returning to the U.S. Visas can only be obtained outside of the U.S. at a U.S. consulate.

I-94 Number/Card

When you enter the U.S. you are issued either an admission stamp in your passport or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the immigration official will issue a stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards.

You will receive either a paper I-94 card or an F-1 admission stamp in your passport (no card), depending on where you arrive. The admission stamp or I-94 card records the date and place you entered the U.S., your immigration status (for example, F-1 or F-2), and authorized period of stay (indicated by “D/S”, meaning “duration of status”). Be sure to check the stamp to make sure it is correct. If you receive a paper I-94 card, keep it stapled in your passport.

If you need a printout of your electronic I-94 information for any reason, you can obtain a printout of your record at HERE

For day-to-day purposes, we suggest that your documents be kept in a secure location such as a bank safe deposit box, and you should carry photocopies. However, if you are traveling outside the area you should carry the original documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is an electronic database system for managing information about international students and exchange visitors in the U.S. It’s administered by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Student Reporting Responsibilities

As an international student at WOU, you will work with OIED to maintain an accurate SEVIS record by:

  • Attending the mandatory international student orientation and immigration document check-in for newly admitted students.
  • Maintaining full-time registration each term during the academic year.
  • Receiving written approval from an international student advisor prior to withdrawing from a class.
  • Meeting with an international student advisor regarding issues such as leave of absence, discontinuation of studies, transfer to a new school, program extension, change of major or degree level, etc.
    Who Uses SEVIS?

    Information in SEVIS may be entered and accessed by:

    • Designated School Officials (DSO’s) and Responsible Officers (RO’s) at an institution or program approved to host international students and exchange visitors
    • Employees of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    • Employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    • Employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
      What Information is Tracked in SEVIS?

      Universities are required to report the following information in SEVIS:

      • Registration
      • Employment authorizations
      • Change of address
      • Change of legal name
      • Change in degree level, program or major
      • Failure to maintain status and/or requests for reinstatement
      • Academic or disciplinary actions by the university due to criminal conviction

      Employees of federal agencies may also report the following information in SEVIS:

      • Entry and departure information, including port, date, and admission and departure number
      • Passport and visa numbers and expiration dates
      • Social Security number