A Division of the International Studies Office

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Immigration Documents Should I Carry With Me While In the U.S.?

As the frequency of immigration-related inspections has increased in some areas of the United States, principally in border regions, the ISO strongly advises international students, scholars, and their dependents to carry their immigration documents, especially when traveling outside of the Charlottesville area.

For our non-immigrant community, U.S. law* states that the I-94 card should be carried at all times, as this is recognized as a “registration document.” The issuance of the I-94 in card form has been discontinued. You may retrieve a printable copy of your I-94 here.

When traveling outside of the Charlottesville area, it is particularly important that international students, scholars, and their dependents carry their passport in addition to the I-94. Individuals in F or J status should also carry the I-20 or DS-2019 as proof of current legal status and its duration. Other non-immigrants should carry the I-797 notice. Those with approved and valid work authorization should carry the Employment Authorization Card, as this is also recognized as a “registration document.” It is not easy to replace immigration documents if lost or stolen; the utmost care should be exercised when traveling with these legal documents. 

Please direct any questions regarding this advisory to the International Studies Office, 434-982-3010, [email protected], Minor Hall 208.

*INA § 264(e)

Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

Is It Legal For Me To Volunteer Or To Work For No Pay?

Fact Sheet on Unpaid Internships from the U.S. Department of Labor

What Information Am I Legally Required To Report?


Address Changes

All F-1 and J-1 students and scholars are required to notify the University of a change of home (permanent) or local (present) mailing address within ten days of such a change. Changes in address may be made using the Student Information System (SIS) online by updating the "Mailing Address" field in SIS. The non-U.S. address is updated in the "SEVIS Foreign Address" field in SIS. F-1 and J-1 visa status holder not compliant with this requirement may be in violation of status. Students also bear the full responsibility for any consequences resulting from misdirected official University communications because of an incorrect address.  All students on F-1 post-completion optional practical training employment authorization or J-1 academic training can use the "Contact Information Update" request form on ISSP Connect. USCIS requires that all individuals (except individuals in F and J status reporting through SEVIS) who are not citizens or nationals of the United States report any change of address to the United States Department of Homeland Security within ten days of any move by filing Form AR-11.


Changes to Immigration Status

Please contact ISSP at [email protected] to report immediately any change to your immigration status to the ISO. Examples of changes that you must report are below:

  • Approval of Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Filing of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status Approval or denial of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status
  • Granting or termination of temporary protected, refugee or asylee status.
  • Admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident or on Advance Parole.

Problems with the status of a parent or spouse of which your status depends such as:


  • Departure from the U.S. of your parent or spouse, or
  • Failure of your parent or spouse to maintain the terms of his or her status.


How Can My Family/Friends Visit Me on a B-2 Visa?


Any applicant for a B-2 visa must demonstrate nonimmigrant intent: 10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa

The International Studies Office does not issue letters of invitation, as your family and friends bear no official relationship to UVA. In fact, the U.S. Consulates have indicated to us that invitation letters are neither required nor in most cases are they helpful. The only occasion in which an invitation may help is when your parents or friends would have trouble conveying your purpose in the U.S., due to lack of familiarity with the U.S. university system.  If you believe your assistance would be desired and helpful in the application of your family or friends for a B-2 visa, you may consider drafting a letter addressed to the Consulate formally inviting them to visit you, which states the following:

  • The inclusive dates of your invitation to the U.S.;
  • The purpose of the visit;
  • Your program and level of study, and
  • That you will provide food, lodging, and other necessities.


The consulate may also find useful a bank statement confirming that you have the funds on hand to support your family or friends while they are in the U.S.

If the purpose of the visit is to attend your graduation, a letter on departmental stationery from your advisor, if graduate student, or your Dean, if undergraduate, can accompany your letter of invitation confirming when the graduation ceremony will occur, and that you will be participating. This type of letter is issued at the department or Dean's discretion. However, this letter is also not required as the Consular officers will routinely check your SEVIS record, including the date of expiration of your visa documents, when the purpose of the family travel is to visit a student in the U.S.


How Can I Get More Information Or Legal Advice About Immigration?


Throughout the year, various organizations at UVA host guest speakers who provide immigration information. Unless explicitly stated at the presentation, the ISO does not sponsor these presentations and is not, in any way, responsible for the information provided by individuals who are not related to the ISO.

The ISO neither encourages nor discourages UVA students from attending these presentations, but all international students at UVA must understand that U.S. immigration law is very complex and often, if not always, immigration presentations at UVA provide an overall summary that is not comprehensive or completely accurate for every situation.

Noting the above, there are many instances where the ISO will encourage a student to seek specific, individualized, immigration advice from an experienced immigration attorney. If you have any questions about information that you receive at an immigration presentation, please visit the ISO.


What Should I Know About UVA-Sponsored Immigration?


No one, including any employee of UVA, should act as a representative of the University in relation to an immigration matter without the authorization of the appropriate International Studies Office representative. The unauthorized filing of any immigration-related application or petition on behalf of the University is a serious violation of University procedure and may have far-reaching negative consequences.

Before signing any document that relates to a foreign national's immigration at UVA, you must confirm that you are not acting as a representative of the University for a UVA-sponsored application or petition.

If you have any questions about an immigration document that you are asked to sign, please contact the ISO or Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services.