Important Documents


  • Valid passport:  Your passport is issued by your home country and must remain valid while you are in the United States.  If your passport is within six months of expiring and you want to renew your passport while in the U.S., you should contact your country’s embassy for instructions for renewing your passport.  For a list of embassies in the U.S., go to, and under “Embassies” choose “Foreign Embassies in Washington D.C”.
  • F-1 Visa:  An F-1 visa is the official sticker that is issued to you, as a nonimmigrant student, by the U.S. Department of State; and is placed on one of the pages in your passport.  A nonimmigrant student must have an F-1 visa to be considered for entry into the U.S.; however, having one does not guarantee you will be allowed in.  When you present your passport with an F-1 visa in it at the border, an immigration officer will determine whether or not you can officially enter the U.S.  You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa, but if you travel outside the U.S., you must renew the visa before you will be allowed to re-enter. 
  • Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility:  The Form I-20 is a three page document issued by Bethel University which you will need to apply for your F-1 student visa and will be used at the time of entry into the U.S.  Upon arrival in the U.S., an immigration officer will stamp the I-20.  The stamp indicates the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. and should be kept with your passport and I-94 card.  You must keep the original I-20 and any additional I-20 forms that are issued to you.  Be sure that your I-20 is always valid during your stay in the U.S. (Item #5).  If you will not complete your program of studies by the date in Item #5, you will need to extend your Program End Date on your I-20 by contacting the International Student Affairs Coordinator two to three weeks before the Program End Date for instructions on how to extend your program.
  • Valid I-94 Card:  The I-94 is a small white card which is your arrival/departure record. When you enter the U.S., an immigration officer will stamp your I-94 indicating your city of entry into the U.S., the date of admission, and your status as an F-1 student.  The officer should write “F-1—D/S” (duration of status) on your I-94.  Look carefully at the I-94 before you leave the immigration inspection area to be certain the I-94 states “F-1 -- D/S”.  Mistakes do happen, so if you arrive at Bethel University and discover that you do not have “F-1--D/S” written on your I-94, you should go to the office of the International Student Affairs Coordinator immediately for guidance.  To avoid misplacing your I-94, staple the card inside your passport, because you will have to forfeit the I-94 each time you leave the U.S. by air.  Each time you re-enter the U.S. by air you will be given a new I-94 to complete.  The student should always write his/her name on the I-94 as it appears on the passport.  It is also very important to write the date of birth on the I-94 exactly as requested (DD/MM/YY).  Students should take each new I-94 to the International Student Affairs Coordinator to copy for the student’s immigration file.