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Immigration Documents

Yes, you should keep every I-20 and every DS-2019 ever given to you, forever. They are very important.

No, we recommend keeping all of your previous I-20s and DS-2019s even if they are from other schools or programs. You may need these in the future when applying for immigration benefits or interacting with the ISS team.

You should make copies of all of your immigration documents and keep them in a separate and secure place from the originals. At minimum a safe space should be cool, dry, and not regularly accessed by anyone but you and those you trust. Examples of safe spaces to store immigration documents include safety deposit boxes at banks, a fireproof safe in your home or the home of a trusted friend or relative, and filing cabinets with locks.

No, you should only carry original documents with you when necessary. This will minimize the chance of them being damaged, lost, or stolen.

If you have a document that has been damaged, lost, or stolen you should contact the International Students and Scholars office by either coming in during drop in advising hours or sending an email to ISS@SCU.EDU. We can then assist you with either obtaining a new document or put you in contact with the appropriate people who can.

Yes, you should keep all original documents sent to you from the United States government as well as copies of any document you submit to ISS. These include:

  • I-797 notice of actions
  • State issued IDs such as driver's liscences
  • Non F-1 Employment Authorization Documents such as those issued for H-4 or L-1
  • Copies of all CPT cooperative agreements
  • Copies of I-765 applications

When you receive a new passport, you should email our office a copy of the biographical information page in your new passport so that we can add it to your file.

When preparing your OPT application you will need to include copies of both your old and new passport, as well as all U.S. visas that are in them. When you come in for your OPT appointment to have your application reviewed, the advisor reviewing your application can answer questions or concerns you may have regarding this.

No. After applying for your new passport, depending on what country you are from, the embassy/consulate may take your passport and cut off a corner or punch a hole in the cover to indicate that your passport is no longer valid. When your new passport is ready, they will send you both the new and old passports at the same time.

In this regard, when entering the U.S. you will have to show both passports -- the old one that is expired and cannot be used for entrance (but still has your valid U.S. visa stamp inside) and the new passport that verifies your identity for entry. When you enter the U.S., the border officer will put a stamp in your new passport and write "VIOPP" which stands for "Visa In Old Passport".

This is a fairly common process, but you should make sure that you get back both your old and new passport and ensure that the entry is stamped in your new passport. When you get your new passport you should be sure to update all of your airline accounts and frequent flyer profiles with your new passport number to ensure that your travel is booked on your new passport number (since your I-94 information often comes from the airlines).