Guide to Obtaining Your I-20

Guide to Obtaining Your I-20

Please read the enclosed instructions carefully before completing the forms and submitting financial documents to avoid delays in obtaining your I-20.

What is a form I-20 and why do I need one?

A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student  Status. It certifies that:

  1. you are or expect to be a “bonafide” student;
  2. you meet our admissions requirements:
  3. you will pursue a full course of study;
  4. you proved to us that you have enough money to study and live in the United States without working illegally or suffering from poverty.

You need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or status, or to keep lawful F-1 status when transferring or changing schools within the U.S.

Does everybody need a form I-20?

NO, some international students do not need a Form I-20.

  • J-1 students need a Form DS-2019 and should ask us for that application.
  • B visitors and F-2 dependents visa holders must obtain a Form I-20 and apply for a change of status to F-1 student before pursuing a course of study that is not vocational or recreational in nature.
  • If you are maintaining another nonimmigrant status in the U.S., you do not have to have an I-20 and may attend school full or part time. Dependent children in E, H, I , J, L, M, N, O, P, R , or S status need to change status after their 21st birthday or if they marry.
  • If you have no legal status, you may attend school, but you are not eligible to change status and do not need an I-20.

Rules for Obtaining your Form I-20

  1. You must be a “BONA FIDE” student, accepted to a full-time program of study.
  2. You must prove to us that you can support the costs of living and studying in the U.S. for every year of your program of study. This is required by U.S. law.
    1. DO NOT EXPECT TO WORK IN THE U.S. TO HELP MEET YOUR ANNUAL COSTS! On- campus employment is limited and competitive; off-campus employment is strictly controlled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
    2. Carefully review our school’s estimated annual financial requirements for international student’s and figure out your annual costs. This is the amount that you must prove that you can provide for every year in your program of study. (Estimate a minimum of four years for a Bachelor’s Degree; 2 years for a Master’s Degree).
    3. These requirements are not negotiable. They represent a modest average budget that does not include luxuries of any kind. We strongly recommend that you budget at least 10% more if possible. Too little money causes pain and distress. We insist that students and their families look closely at the costs of living and studying in the U.S. and make careful plans to be sure your needs will be met.
    4. Expect annual increases in tuition and living costs.
  3. Read and follow these instructions very carefully. You cannot complete this process without following them step-by-step. Sometimes, we may have to ask you to give us more evidence of your financial ability-perhaps more than once. The U.S. government requires that we be absolutely sure, to the best of our ability, that you will have enough financial support to cover the full costs of your stay in the U.S.


Download I-20 Application