Immigration Statuses in the US

International Student Services supports your needs as an international student. Although most students associated with the office are on a student visa (F1 or J1), Bucknell does enroll students on various other statuses, ranging from permanent residency, to various dependent visas, asylum and more. If you have questions about your eligibility to enroll (certain dependent visas do not permit study, or work) please contact ISS.


SEVIS is the Student Exchange Visitor Information System, an internet-based database run by the U.S. government. All U.S. educational institutions that enroll international students use this database to generate your I-20 or DS-2019. Your responsibility is to pay the SEVIS Fee before your visa interview. The SEVIS fee is a one-time payment associated with your SEVIS number which is a 10-digit number that starts with the letter "N" located at the top right of your I-20 or DS-2019.

Understanding Your Documents

Passport – renew this before it expires. It should be renewed so that it’s valid at least six months into the future. It can be renewed while you’re in the US. Contact your country’s embassy or consulate for instructions.

Visa – your F1 or J1 visa is like an admission ticket. It only needs to be valid at the time you are entering the United States. Once you are here, the F1 or J1 visa can expire, as long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is current (unexpired) and you are maintaining your student status.

I-20 – This is the form ISS creates for you, from your F1 SEVIS record. It should always reflect your current major and your expected graduation date. If you see any errors on the form, contact ISS to get a corrected copy.

I-94 – This is the US government’s way of officially tracking and approving your entry into the U.S. For most students, this record is now electronic. A few (particularly Canadian students) may receive a paper copy. You can access your I-94 and print it here. Important: Your I-94 changes each time you leave the country! You need to print a new one after EACH time you enter the US. You need your most recent printed I-94 for payroll enrollment, Social Security and the DMV.

On the I-94, the D/S annotation means “Duration of Status” which essentially says that you are eligible to remain in the US for as long as you are maintaining your student status/pursuing your degree.

Requirements for Maintaining Legal Status

Address: All F1 and J1 students must update their address within ten days of moving. If you are a current undergraduate, your housing information is automatically updated with ISS. If you are a graduate student, please report your current address information directly to ISS by e-mailing

Enrollment: Undergraduates must be enrolled in at least 3 courses in a semester (7 for the academic year total) and graduate students at least in 2 courses in order to be considered full-time enrolled. Any drop below these amounts requires authorization from ISS for very specific and limited circumstances.

Code of Conduct and local law enforcement: ISS must report any disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of the student being convicted of a crime.

Be sure to tell ISS if your name changes or your status changes (name, marriage, divorce, obtaining a green card, etc.).


Leaving the US? Make sure you have the following:

  • passport, valid at least 6 months into the future from the date you plan to re-enter the U.S.
  • visa, this has to be valid on the day you plan to re-enter the U.S. Visas can only be renewed outside of the U.S.
  • I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel. This means you must get a “travel signature” on your document before you leave campus!
    I-20’s: signed on the third page and each signature is valid for a maximum of one year.
    DS-2019’s: signed on the first page and each signature is valid for a maximum of six months.