International Student Pre-Arrival Guide

Legal Procedures

The Form I-20

The Form I-20 is issued by the Admissions Office of Eckerd College after you have met all the requirements for admission. It is usually mailed to you with a notice of acceptance. It is a very important legal document that allows you to apply for a student visa, travel in and out of the United States, obtain a driver's license, and proves your status as a student.

F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa is a stamp placed on a page of your passport by a U. S. consular officer. It is required for all non U.S. citizens to enter the United States as a student. Unless you already have a valid F-1 visa, be sure to make an appointment to the closest U.S. Consulate in your country to obtain this visa. (If you already have a F-1 visa, make sure it is valid before re-entering the United States).

The Form I-94

During your flight, or when entering the U.S. you will be given a Form I-94. DO NOT LOSE THIS CARD! If the immigration officer doesn't staple the I-94 into your passport, you should do so.

This small white piece of paper indicates the date and port of entry (POE) to the United States, your immigration classification (F-1, tourist, etc) and the date to which you are allowed to remain in the United States.

For F-1 students, the expiration date of the form I-94 will be D/S. This stands for "Duration of Status." It means that your permission to remain in the U.S. in F-1 student is valid as long as you have a valid I-20 and continue as a full time student.

1. Applying for a F-1 Visa:

Once you have received your I-20 from the Admissions Office, contact immediately the closest U.S. Consulate to make an appointment and to inquire about specific application procedures and SEVIS fees payment to obtain your student visa.

Required documents to apply for F-1 visa:

  • Your form I-20
  • Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses at Eckerd College,
  • Your passport - valid for at least six months,
  • Form DS-158 "Nonimmigrant Visa Application"
  • Photographs
  • Applicable fees (SEVIS fee)

Note: The earliest an F-1 visa can be granted is 90 days before the reporting date listed on Form I-20.

2. Entering the United States

You cannot enter the U.S. prior to 30 days from the date indicated in field five (5) of your form I-20. When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry you must present to the immigration official the following documents:

  • Your passport - valid for at least six months,
  • The F-1 visa stamped in your passport by the consulate,
  • Your form I-20 signed,
  • Form I-94

3. Upon arriving at Eckerd College

The office of International Student Programs will contact you to collect the following documents:

  • Your passport,
  • The F-1 visa stamped in your passport,
  • Your form I-20,
  • The form I-94 issued at the Port of Entry (POE)

In the office, we will copy or scan these documents to keep in our records.

4. Additional legal information

If you have been awarded Financial Aid in the form of "International Work Study" or if you need to find out information about a driving permit, come by the office !! We can show you where to go to apply for a Social Security Card or for a Driver's License.

If you have any question about procedures, feel free to contact the Director of International Student Programs at (727) 864-7678 or preferably by email at

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