Obtaining F-1 Status at a Port of Entry

F-1 status is a nonimmigrant status issued by the USCIS to an alien student who is pursuing studies in the U.S. An alien student may obtain valid F-1 status by applying for admission into the U.S. with a valid F-1 visa at the port of entry.

When an alien student holding an F-1 visa arrives at the U.S. border, he/she shall present the F-1 visa, as well as a SEVIS Form I-20 to an immigration officer. The student must also be proficient in English or receive training to become proficient and must also present documentary evidence of financial support in the amount indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20.

If the immigration officer at the border admits the alien student, the alien student will receive a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that will include his/her admission number and evidence of his/her lawful status in the United States. Once the student has been admitted at the port of entry and been issued their I-94 they are in valid F-1 status. The immigration inspector will review the student’s SEVIS Form I-20, endorse/stamp the form, and then return the Form I-20 to the student; the school copy of the I-20 will be sent back to the school as a notice of the student’s admission after data entry. In the case of a non-SEVIS Form I-20, the student's copy and the school's copy will be appropriately annotated with the admission information. Moreover, the alien student should keep their Form I-20 and I-94 safe because they prove that he/she legally entered the United States.


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(1); 22 CFR § 41.61(b)(1)
DOS Foreign Affairs Manual: 9 FAM 41.61 N6.1-1

(Updated 10/11/2012 by AD)

For more information about F-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: