Immigration Status

How is your Immigration Status different from your Visa?

The visa issued by the U.S. embassy as a seal in your passport indicates that you are eligible to apply for entry to the U.S. in a specific immigration category such as F-1 Student or J-1 Research Scholar. This visa stamp must be accompanied by a visa document such as a Form I-20 (F-1 student) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 Research Scholar). Upon entering the U.S. a Customs and Border Protection official will review these documents and authorize your status in the I-94 system and finally put an ink entry stamp in the passport.

Passport StampStudents and scholars should always print this I-94 card data so that you have evidence of your immigration status, which includes the length of time you may remain inside the U.S.

F-1 and J-1 visa holders will see the notation "D/S" in their I-94 data. D/S stands for "duration of status" and refers back to the expiration date on your immigration document (Form I-20 or DS-2019). When your status is D/S you can stay in the U.S. aslong as your visa document (Form I-20 or DS-2019) is accurate and unexpired. Scholars with other visa status (such as H-1B or TN) will have I-94 data with actual expiration dates by which time you are expected to leave the United States or apply for an extension of status.

The visa stamp in your passport gives your permission to request entry to the U.S. Your I-94 data shows your status inside the U.S. including the visa type and duration of stay.