Visa and Immigration Documents
Immigration regulations state that you are responsible for keeping your passport valid at all times during your stay here. Your passport can be revalidated or renewed through your embassy or consulate.
The visa is an affixed endorsement made in the passport by an American consular or embassy official outside of the United States (in most cases). It indicates that all requirements have been met for entry into the U.S. The visa type and number of entries allowed within a specified period is indicated on the visa and can vary from country to country. Having a valid visa is essential for entering and re-entering the United States (with the exception of brief trips to Mexico and Canada); it does not determine the length of time you may remain in this country.
I-94 Departure Record
This white card is usually stapled to the visa page in your passport by an immigration inspector when you enter the U.S. It records the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. The I-94, not the visa stamp, is the record of your permission to remain in the US . There may be an expiration date written in the upper right-hand corner of the I-94 card. For J-1 and F-1 visa holders, the I-94 card is usually marked "D/S." This abbreviation stands for "Duration of Status." The D/S is defined by law as the period during which you are working toward training or educational objective.
This form applies to J-1 visa holders and their dependents and is used when applying for your J-1 and J-2 entry visa. At the time of entry to the U.S., Form DS-2019 is stamped by an immigration officer and returned to you. It indicates the length of your authorized stay in the U.S. and should be kept with your passport and I-94 card.
I-797: (H-1B1 petition approval notice)
This form applies to H-1 visa holders and their dependents and is used when applying for your H-1B1 and H-4 entry visa.Keep this form with your passport and I-94 card.
Entry into the United States
When you arrive at the border of the United States ("port of entry"), the U.S. Immigration Inspector examines your passport, visa and Certificate of Eligibility Form DS-2019 (if you have a J-1 visa) or Form I-797 (if you have an H-1B visa). Do not pack your important documents in the bags you have checked onto the plane, always hand carry them with you.
Note: Canadian nationals and landed immigrants are not required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp to enter the United States [8 CFR 212.1(a)]. In the case of a Canadian H-1B applicant, he or she is required to submit the approved I-797 form at the port of entry to the U.S.