What is a Form I-94 and why is it important?

Form I-94, also known as the “Arrival/Departure Document”, is attached to a student's passports as he or she enters the United States. This small white form is given to non-immigrant visitors upon entering the United States and confirms that the visitor has legally entered the United States.

The form is given back to the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) upon departure and is used to verify that the visitor has not remained beyond the authorized time period.

Form I-94 is important because it is the only proof of legal entry into the Unites States that an international student has. Students should make several copies of the form. If the form is lost then another must be requested at the local INS office by submitting INS Form 102.
 
When a student receives Form I-94 it will have two dates printed on it. The first is the date the student entered the United States and is stamped in the top-right corner. The second date is handwritten below the first and is the expiration date of the I-94.

For international students with F-1 visa status, this date is replaced with either the phrase “Duration of Status” or “D/S”. This means that the I-94 is valid for the length of time needed to complete their schooling. Therefore, the expiration date of the I-94 will correspond with the expiration date of From I-20 issued by university. F-1 students should make sure that their I-94 shows “D/S” instead of an expiration date before they leave the port of entry.