F-1 Status

I am beginning my studies at RISD soon. How long will it take to get my I-20?

Once your application is processed and you pay your deposit to reserve your space in the program, please allow about two weeks for your I-20 to be issued. We will send the I-20 to you using UPS, which usually takes about 3 to 5 business days for delivery.

I am coming to the U.S. soon to begin my program of study. When can I arrive?

You may enter the U.S. as early as 30 days before your program begins.

What is my I-94 record?

Your I-94 is a record of your arrival into the U.S. made by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A specific number is assigned to each I-94 record and the record is annotated with your name, date of birth, passport number and country of issuance, the status you entered the U.S. in and the expiration date of your status. It is important to check your I-94 record every time you enter the U.S. to make sure your arrival status was accurately recorded. It should always be "F-1, D/S." If it says anything other than that, make an appointment to visit OISS. Check your I-94 record at cbp.gov.

My visa is expired or will soon expire. What should I do?

Your visa stamp in your passport is an entry document so it only needs to be valid when you enter the U.S. If it expires while you are in the U.S., and your I-20 is still valid, there is nothing that you have to do. However, if you plan international travel, you must make sure you have time while outside of the U.S. to apply for and get a new F-1 visa.

I just changed my major. Do I need a new I-20?

Yes. Any student who changes major need a new I-20 to reflect the correct major. Complete an I-20 Update Form to request an updated I-20.


I'm traveling outside of the U.S. soon. Do I need a new travel signature?

Your travel signature on page two of your I-20 is valid for multiple entries for one year (except if you are on OPT--It is valid for only 6 months). If the travel signature will be more than one year (or 6 months if on OPT) on the date you are returning to the U.S. you should get a travel signature at OISS. Please allow 3 to 5 business days to obtain that signature.

How often do I have to get a travel signature?

You only need a travel signature when you travel internationally. Travel signatures are valid for multiple trips for one year.

What happens if I am detained in secondary inspection?

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will ask you more questions than if you were just going through customs. It is important that you always answer truthfully. If there is a bigger issue, you can contat our office Monday through Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. If you are traveling outside of normal business hours, you should contact Public Safety at 401.454.6376. They will know how to reach an International Student Advisor to help you.


I want to drop a class. Is that ok?

You may drop a class as long as you remain full-time at 12 credits. If dropping a class takes you below 12 credits you should visit OISS before dropping the class. There are only a few ways to drop below full-time status and this requires authorization. You must meet with an International Student Advisor. To schedule an appointment, contact oiss@risd.edu.

I need a transcript. Where can I get one?

The Registrar's Office will be able to provide you with your transcript.

Where can I get confirmation of enrollment?

The Registrar's Office website has information on how to obtain enrollment verification.


Do I have to file a tax return?

It is our understanding that international students are required to file a tax return in the U.S. even if they have no income. OISS offers a tax return filing software, Sprintax, to international students to file their Federal tax returns at no cost and their State tax returns at a discounted price. The software is generally available mid- to late March. You must come into the office located in Carr House, 3rd Fl, Rm 303 to obtain your access code. For more information about Federal taxes, visit irs.gov and for State of Rhode Island tax information visit www.tax.ri.gov.

Where can I find information for off-campus housing?

RISD's Residence Life website is a great resource.

How do I change my meal plan?

Please visit RISD's Dining website for instructions on how to change your meal plan.

How can I get a Social Security Number?

You must find a job in order to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Please visit our SSN web page for more information on how to file for an SSN.

I don't want to carry my passport and risk losing it while I'm in the U.S. What can I do?

You can apply for a Rhode Island State Identification Card (RI State ID). To apply for the RI State ID, you must go to the RI Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Cranston, RI. You will need your passport, I-20, I-94 record, proof of residence, and a letter from OISS. To request our letter, please complete a Letter Request Form and allow us 3 to 5 business days for us to prepare your letter. You may follow this same procedure to apply for a RI State Driver's License. Please see the Instructions/Checklist for more information.

Contact Us:

(Tel) 401.277.4957

(Fax) 401.454.6605

Email Inquiries:



210 Benefit Street, Room 304

Providence, RI 02903

Mailing Address:


2 College Street

Providence, RI 02903


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International Orientation