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Document Self-Check

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As an F-1/J-1 international student, you are responsible for maintaining your status and immigration documents for the duration of your stay at UC San Diego. While maintaining status and keeping your documents up to date is YOUR responsibility, note ISPO is here to help with any questions.

There is no need to notify the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) when you complete your document self-check unless you believe there is an error in your documents. Failure to correct processing errors of your documents made at the port of entry may result in the loss of your F-1 or J-1 status.

New Students: Complete the self-check within 15 days after arrival to the U.S. or arriving to campus to verify that your documents were processed correctly by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry.

Current Students and Alumni on OPT: Complete a document self each time you prepare to re-enter and upon re-entry to the U.S.

Key Points:

  • Never Throw Away Documents: Keep all copies of your I-20/DS-2019 from UC San Diego and any other institution you attend in a safe and accessible place. They may be required for future applications or authorizations.
  • Update your Documents: Your I-20/DS-2019 needs to be updated any time there is a change to the information on the form. Federal regulations require that you report changes to your Form I-20 or DS-2019 within 10 days of the change.
  • Make your Documents Accessible: Keep digital copies of your I-20/DS-2019 and other documents on your phone.
  • Document Self-Check: Ensure that your forms are in order every time you enter the U.S.

I-20 or DS-2019

Your I-20 or DS-2019 is used as proof of your legal and academic status in the U.S, but it is not your main form of identification or a visa to travel to the U.S. Keeping your I-20/DS-2019 document updated is very important for maintaining your status, traveling, and retaining eligibility for benefits such as work authorization. Keep copies of all I-20/DS-2019 documents you receive for your own personal records.

  • Is your biographical information correct?
    • If you have changed any biographical information such as your legal name or citizenship, you should submit an Updated I-20/DS-2019 Request in iPortal and select the relevant update option.
  • Have you added your signature?
    • Make sure that you have signed your I-20 under the Student Attestation section or your DS-2019 under the Exchange Visitor Certification. See below to view a sample I-20 and DS-2019.
  • Do you have a valid travel signature?
    • A travel signature is located on page two of an I-20 under the ‘Travel Endorsement’ section and is on page one of a DS-2019 under the ‘Travel Validation by Responsible Officer’. A valid travel signature signed by a DSO or ARO allows F-1 or J-1 students to seek re-entry to the U.S. during the time period of its validity.
    • For enrolled F-1 and J-1 students, travel signatures are valid for one year. This means that you may use the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to seek re-entry to the U.S. for up to one year after the travel signature date. For F-1 students on OPT or STEM OPT, travel signatures are valid for 6 months.
    • If you are traveling internationally and your travel signature has expired, please submit a Travel Signature Request in iPortal.
  • Is your program end date in the future?
    • The program end date is an estimate of how much time it will take you to complete your program. It may take you more or less time.
    • If you need additional time to graduate after your program end date: Please submit an Extension I-20/DS-2019 Request in iPortal. It is very important that your program end date is in the future, as ISPO is unable to extend your I-20/DS-2019 after your program end date has passed.
    • If you are graduating before your program end date: Your grace period begins when you complete your program regardless of the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019. For undergraduate students, completion is determined by your graduation date or enrollment end date. For graduate students, a completion date can be determined by several factors depending on your program. Please talk to an international student advisor to determine your program end date.
  • Is your major correct?
    • If you have changed your major or added a second major, please submit an Updated I-20/DS-2019 Request in iPortal and select the “Academic Major Change” update option.
    • The major as displayed on your document may look different, as it reflects a standardized CIP code rather than your major’s UC San Diego code and name used on Tritonlink. Find your major’s equivalent CIP Code to ensure that it is correct.
      • The CIP code for EAPR and Global Exchange Students will always default to ‘24.0199 Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other’ regardless of your major at your home university.
  • Have you changed your program level?
    • If you are beginning a new program level at UC San Diego (for example, if you have completed an undergraduate program and will start a graduate program), then you will need to submit a Change of Program Level I-20/DS-2019 Request in iPortal.

 Understand your I-20/DS-2019:


Your electronic Form I-94, also known referred to as your arrival/departure record, is a record generated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) AFTER you enter the U.S. It reflects your legal entry to the U.S., the visa type you were admitted under, and how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. Your I-94 will be updated every time you re-enter the U.S.

  • Can you access your I-94?
    • Your I-94 is issued electronically, meaning that you can access your record on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) I-94 website. It may take 2-3 days after arrival for the system to update with your information.
    • When you access your electronic Form I-94, save or print the form for your own records.
    • If you are not able to access your I-94, please review tips for locating your I-94.
  • Does the ‘Class of Admission’ state either ‘F-1’ or ‘J-1’?
  • Does the ‘Admit Until Date’ state ‘D/S’?
    • The ‘Admit Until Date’ on your I-94 should state ‘D/S’, which means Duration of Status. The D/S notation means that you can remain in the U.S. for the duration of your academic program as long as you maintain your visa status. If there is any date or notation other than D/S on your I-94, please talk to an international student advisor to determine next steps.

 Understand your Form I-94:


A visa is a legal document that grants you permission to seek entry to a particular country for a specific reason (for example, study or tourism). All international students, except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda, must have a valid F or J visa to enter the U.S. Students must apply for both new visas and visa renewals at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the U.S. When your passport is returned from the embassy or consulate, there will be a visa page granting you permission to seek entry.

  • Is your visa status correct?
    • Ensure that the 'Visa Type / Class' listed on your passport is correct.
  • Does the ‘Class of Admission’ state either ‘F-1’ or ‘J-1’?
    • Ensure that there is an ‘M’ under ‘Entries’, which indicates that you can use this visa for multiple entries before the expiration date. ‘S’ indicates that you can enter the U.S. a single time before the expiration, or in other words, only once.
    • Citizens of certain countries such as Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria may receive visas with ‘S’ or a number under ‘Entries’. You may call your visa-issuing U.S. Consulate or Embassy or see the U.S. Department of State Reciprocity Tables for further information.
  • Is your ‘Expiration Date’ in the future?
    • You need a visa with an expiration date in the future in order to enter the U.S.
    • You can remain in the U.S. with an expired visa, but if you leave the U.S. after the expiration date (or if you only have a Single Entry visa), you will need to renew your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. before you can seek re-entry.

 Understand your F-1/J-1 Visa:


A passport is a legal document from your home country that functions as a form of identification and a confirmation of your citizenship. Students should always have a valid passport, and it is common for border officials at the point of entry to require that your passport is valid at least 6 months into the future.

  • Have you made a copy of your passport?
    • You should keep a copy of your passport’s biographical page (the page with your name, photo, and the passport’s expiration date) for your personal records.
  • Is your passport expired or expiring soon?
    • Your passport should always be valid at least 6 months into the future. If the expiration date is approaching, begin the process to renew it.
    • It is possible to renew your passport inside the U.S. If you have questions about passport renewals or replacements, please contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S.
  • Did you get a new passport?
    • You do not need to let us know that you got a new passport unless the biographical information in your new passport does not match your I-20/DS-2019 document.
    • If your F-1 or J-1 visa page is in your old passport, you must bring both your old and your new passport to seek re-entry to the U.S.

 Understand the Biographical Page in your Passport:

Update Your Address

All F-1 and J-1 international are legally required to report any changes to their current U.S. address and their permanent address outside the U.S. within 10 days of the change. You can report all changes to your address and contact information in Tritonlink. Ensure that all information in Tritonlink is up to date, including your email, phone number, and emergency contacts.

  • Do you need to update your ‘current address’ in the U.S.?
    • If you have moved to a new address in the U.S., update the Current Address field in your TritonLink account. ISPO will be automatically notified of this update and will report it in your SEVIS record.
  • Do you need to update your ‘current address’ in the U.S. during vacations and breaks?
    • ISPO does not require international students to update ‘current address’ during vacations and breaks if you are maintaining the current address while abroad or on vacation. If you are transitioning between two addresses, report a new address within 10 days of moving to the new location.
  • Do you need to update your ‘permanent address’ outside the U.S.?
    • If you or your family have moved to a new address outside the U.S., update the Permanent Address field in your TritonLink account. ISPO will be automatically notified of this update and will report it in your SEVIS record.
  • Do you have a non-UC San Diego J1 or J2 visa status, or are you on a Fulbright grant?
    • Inform your non-UC San Diego Responsible Officers of address changes within 10 days of moving. If you need help identifying your Responsible Officer(s), please contact an international student advisor.
  • Are you Global Leadership Institute (GLI) student?
    • As GLI students do not have access to Tritonlink, please contact your Program Coordinator to report any change in your address.