Immigration Information


An official document issued by your home government that certifies your identity and citizenship and grants you its protection when you travel abroad.

International students require a valid passport to enter the United States. As this can take up to a few months to obtain, we recommend that you initiate the process as soon as possible.


Issued to students once they have proved their ability to finance their education and living costs and serves as the financial statement for the F-1 Visa.

After you send your confirmation deposit, the Office of International Admissions and Services at Mercyhurst College will mail your I-20 to you. The I-20 form is necessary to obtain the F-1 visa, gain entry into the United States, and once in the U.S., to leave and re-enter and prove your legal status. Do not lose this document.

Be sure to keep your I-20 in your carry-on bag when you travel, not your checked luggage. You will need to show it at ports of entry.

F-1 Visa

Permits entry into the United States for purposes of academic or language training and is issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country.

International students require F-1 Visas to enter the United States. Visas are obtained from U.S. Embassies and/or Consulates in your home country and are stamped in your passport. You will be required to present your passport, I-20, original Bank Affidavit (guarantee of financial support), original acceptance letter from Mercyhurst College, original financial aid award from Mercyhurst College, and a completed visa application form.

The F-1 procedure is not the same for every country. You should contact your consulate/embassy in advance to determine whether you will require additional documentation or an interview, as well as to get an idea of the time frame for the visa application process.


A card issued by U.S. Customs and Immigration that serves as an arrival/departure record and lists your immigration data.

When you enter the United States, have your passport, I-20, F-1 Visa, financial documentation, and acceptance letter ready when you arrive at Immigration. The Immigration Officer will have you complete an I-94. This certifies your lawful admission into the United States, lists your admission number, entry date, and your F-1 entry status. The I-94 is typically stapled into your passport.

The I-94 is required for travel outside the United States and is your proof of legal entry into the U.S. Do not lose this document.

The officer will also process your I-20 and make the same notations as on the I-94: admission number, F-1 stamp, duration of status (D/S), and entry date.

Keep your I-20 and I-94 in a secure place and carry these documents with you when traveling.

Canadian students

The Office of International Admissions and Services will mail your I-20 to you. At your point of entry, you must present your I-20, passport, bank affidavit guaranteeing funds for your education, financial aid award from Mercyhurst College, and original acceptance letter from Mercyhurst College.

You will complete an I-94 and the immigration officer will record your admission number, date of status (D/S), entry date and F-1 visa status on it. The I-94 will be attached inside your passport or to your I-20.

When traveling between the United States and Canada , you will not be re-admitted into the U.S. if you do not have both your I-20 and I-94 with you. You risk having these documents revoked should you attempt to gain entry without them and will therefore not be permitted to return to Mercyhurst College until they are reinstated.

Keep your I-20 and I-94 in a secure place and carry these documents with you when traveling.


When you receive your I-20 in the mail, verify that all information is valid and correct.

Check all spelling. For example, your name on the I-20 must appear exactly as it does on your passport, including middle initials/names.

Check your birth date and country of birth.

Check your academic program, reporting and completion date, and financial information. The I-20 cannot be used if the reporting date has passed and is therefore expired.

Verify the I-20 has been signed by the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO), Daniel Cabanillas .

If any information on your I-20 is incorrect, request a new one by contacting Daniel Cabanillas , PDSO, at (814) 824-2430 or Eric Evans , Director of International Admissions and Services, at (814) 824-2478.

Helpful links


Links compiled by the Bureau of International Information Programs/U.S. Department of State about education in the U.S.

Visa information

An "official source of information about U.S. visa policy and procedures.... This site serves as a single point of access to U.S. visa information. It will connect you to additional, in-depth information found on Web sites managed by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

Information on pre-departure planning, student visas, traveling to and arriving in the U.S. , beginning your U.S. education, publications, glossary of terms.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs offers information on visa procedures and provides relevant updates on visa restrictions and/or changes in procedures.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Provides information on citizenship, immigration, fees, procedures, as well as immigration forms, related news updates and links to other relevant web sites.

Other helpful databases

Financial information for international students, visa and passport info, living in the U.S. , scholarship search, financing college, and other information.

A comprehensive web site providing international students with helpful information on travel and health insurance, scholarships and loans, pre-departure information, test preparation, the application process, essay preparation, international calling cards, and more.