Visa vs. F-1 Status
is often confusion over the difference between visa and
status. In many countries, a visa is directly tied to
the immigration status. In the U.S., the visa simply
allows a foreign national to apply for admission in the
U.S. at a U.S.
Entry. The U.S. Port of Entry grants the legal
status through endorsing the I-94 arrival/departure
endorsement and granting of status is done each time
an individual enters the U.S. Thus it is essential
that each time you travel and re-enter the U.S. you
are prepared to document your legal F-1 status. You
should also carefully review the I-94 for accuracy at
the Port of Entry (be certain the Port grants the
current legal status), and that you provide the ISSS
office with updated copies of the I-94 each time you
For F-1 students, the
Entry will mark F-1 as the visa status and D/S
for duration of status. This D/S indication allows
the educational institution to extend or transfer
your legal immigration status without any additional
Citizenship and Immigration Services and
beyond the expiration date of the F-1 visa stamp.
Changes of status (to a different immigration
status, such as H or J) while remaining in the U.S.,
do require additional applications to U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A
change of status is not complete until USCIS issues a
new I-94 card showing one's new status.
Extensions or changes of status to F-1 provide
valid immigration status in the U.S., but the F-1
visa can only be obtained or renewed at a U.S.
Consulate abroad (preferably in the student’s
home country). A valid visa stamp must be presented
upon re-entering the U.S. Note: Do not enter the U.S.
using a B-1/B-2 tourist visa or using the Visa Waiver
Program. Doing so will not allow for study or any
other benefits related to the F-1 status.