Skip Main Navigation

Important Documents

a group of four students hold a white and green flagWhat to Bring and Why

It is important that you understand the types of documents that you need to have completed or in your possession as you prepare to come to the United States to study. Review the following list carefully and seek assistance with any that you may not have completed or have not yet obtained. 


It is your most important piece of identification, and you need to keep it valid (6 months beyond your projected date of departure from the U.S.) You cannot renew your visa unless your passport is current, nor can you leave the U.S. without a valid passport.


A visa represents permission from the State Department for the bearer to enter the United States in a particular category. In the past, visas were rubber-stamped on the passport page with multi-colored ink. The transition is nearly complete, however, to a machine-readable, label-type of visa, with a photograph of the bearer.

Many people use the term "visa" to describe certificates of eligibility or some of the other documents issued in connection with one's nonimmigrant stay in the United States, but the word is in fact only used correctly when referring to the State Department document in the passport.


Certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant F-1 Student Status. This form is issued to you to attend Otero Junior. Having accepted the I-20, you are required by immigration to attend OJC for at least one semester before transferring. Whenever you travel outside the U.S. you must carry an up-to-date I-20 endorsed by the Director of International Relations or Vice President of Student Services. You must also check visa requirements of those countries through which you will travel.

You should keep pages 1-3 of your I-20 at all times.  It serves as a record of all transactions about your status.

DS-2019 Form

Certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant J-1 Exchange Visitors. This document certifies that the person has been accepted under the Exchange Visitor Program, which is approved by the USIA in Washington, D.C. Under this program, students, researchers and professors come to the United States on a temporary basis for the purpose of educational exchange. The terms of the appointment and the financial support of the program are indicated of the DS-2019. Uses of the DS-2019 correspond to those of an I-20 form. The program sponsor endorses the DS-2019 for overseas travel. Please visit the Office of International Programs before departure for authorization to travel outside of the U.S.


At some land based crossings, you may be issued a traditional I-94 card that in the past the Customs & Border Protection inspector would staple into your passport, However, most of you will need to retrieve your I-94 (Admission/Departure Record online at the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website.  This records your entry and exit into the U.S., port of entry, date, status and length of stay. 

Duration of Status (D/S)

Defined as the period during which a student pursues a full course of study in any educational program and any period of practical training plus 60 days to depart from the United States.

I-765 Form

Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD.) For F-1 students, this form is used to request optional practical training; off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization; or off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship. This is also the form the J-2 dependent must file to request work permission.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

A laminated card with photo issued to some non-immigrants by USCIS indicating how long work is authorized. Do not begin work off-campus without this card.