Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your authorized stay in the United States. Should your passport expire while you are in the U.S., you will not only have to renew your passport but your F-1 status as well.


If the visa stamp in your passport expires while you are in the United States, you do not need to renew it. If you leave the United States with an expired visa, you will have to apply for a new one before you can reenter. You may, however, travel to Canada and return with an expired visa if your trip is for less than 30 days.


The small white card that was stapled into your passport when you entered the United States is called an I-94. It is your most important immigration document. Most students’ I-94s have the letters D/S written on them, which means “duration of status.” This means that you are allowed to remain in the United States for as long as it takes to complete your course of study, as specified on your I-20. If you exit the United States, your I-94 will be removed from your passport, usually by flight attendants. Immigration officials at the point of entry will issue a new I-94, provided you have your I-20 and your valid passport with an F-1 visa. Do not, however, surrender your I-94 when crossing the border into Canada.


When you were admitted to Colby College, the Admissions Office sent you an I-20, which allowed you to apply for an F-1 student visa at an American consulate. The I-20 shows the date and place of admission to the United States and, most important, the admission number, which is your admission number with BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services). Do not surrender your I-20 when you leave the United States. Recommendations on applications for practical training and transfers of schools are also recorded on the I-20 ID. If you lose your I-20, ask the ISA to issue you a duplicate. If you realize that you will need to stay beyond the date authorized on your I-20, you must see the ISA to request an extension. You must have a good academic reason for doing so; failing to make progress toward your degree is not sufficient. You must request the extension within the 30-day period prior to the end date on your I-20.

Leave of Absence

International students are eligible for leaves of absence as well as for study abroad programs, if regular criteria are met. Please note that after an absence from the United States of more than five months, your prior F-1 status is considered to be no longer valid, and you must reenter on a new I-20. This is normally not a problem, and you only need apply for a new visa if your initial one has expired. However, your “clock” towards practical training begins again with your new entry, and you must wait at least nine months before becoming eligible.


Travel Outside the United States and Reentry. In general you will need the following documents to reenter the United States: A valid passport A valid visa stamp (except for short visits to Canada) A signed I-20 (Page 2 of your I-20 must be signed by the ISA at least once a semester). To be safe, have your I-20 signed every time you leave the United States.

Travel to Canada and Mexico. If you plan to travel to Canada, you may need a visa. See the ISA for a listing of exempt countries. Mexico requires a visa in all cases. The ISA has the phone numbers of the consulates to ask for visa information. Make sure to obtain visa information several weeks in advance of your planned travels because the application will require time to be processed.

Social Security

All Colby students who work on campus are required to have a Social Security Number. To apply for one, take your passport, your I-20, and your employment letter to the main post office downtown. There is no application fee. You will receive your card within two or three weeks. Then give your number to the Registrar at Colby, located in the Lovejoy Building, and to the ISA.
>>Directions to Social Security Office in Waterville


You are required by United States law to pay taxes on any wages you receive for working at Colby, and on the taxable portion of your grant (that which is in excess of the amount of your tuition and fees). Some of you may benefit from tax treaties that your country holds with the United States, in which case some of your income is not taxable (this depends on your country and the terms of the treaty). Colby will take out an estimated amount directly from your paycheck and from your grant to send to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). By April of every year that you are in the United States, you must file a “tax return” with the IRS, even if you had no income whatsoever while you were here. If you owe any taxes in addition to those that have been paid for you, you will need to send them then. In most cases, the IRS sends you a refund of an overpayment a few months after you have filed. The ISA will discuss your tax situation with you and will hold a tax workshop in plenty of time for you to file your return. At this link you can find more information on filing for taxes and as well download forms. >>Tax Info

Maine I.D.

A Maine State ID will provide you with an official form of identification. You can get one at the Old Stearns Building (93 Main Street) during the following times: the first Monday, second Friday, and fourth Friday of each month from 9am to 1pm and 2 to 3pm. You must bring two forms of identification plus your passport and I-20. It will cost you about $5.
>>Directions to Old Stearns Building in Waterville