International Student Passports

The passport is just one of many documents an international student will need to enter and study within the United States, but obtaining a passport is perhaps one of the most important.

The passport must be valid to enter the United States and must be valid during a student’s entire stay. Unless the student is from one of these countries, the passport must also be valid for six months after the planned departure date. If a student is a citizen of one of those countries then their passport is allowed to expire in less than 6 months after departing, but they must still keep a valid passport up to and including their departure date. Students should not confuse the expiration date of their passport, with expiration dates on their I-20, I-94, or student visa.

After arriving in the United States it is not necessary for international students to carry their passport with them at all times. But, it must be presented when leaving or re-entering the United States.

International students must keep their passport valid at all times while in the United States. If the passport will expire while studying in the United States, the student must contact their home country’s embassy in the U.S. to arrange for a replacement. The reissuing of a new passport is time consuming and students should being the renewal process six months before the expiration date.

Expired Passports

If a student enters the United States with a passport that will expire during their stay, the customs or border official will can issue a Form I-94 with an early expiration date. Technically, this means that because their passport will expire the student must leave the United States before this early date, even if the student has not they have not finished their studies. In this case, students must not only apply to for a new valid passport from their embassy before the expiration date, but must also get a new Form I-94 from INS with a new expiration date that will allow the student to remain in the country.

Because of the inconvenience of having to renew a passport while studying and dealing with possible complications of an early-expiring I-94, students should ensure that their passport will remain valid for the entire duration of their stay before applying for the F-1 visa.