The USA is the most popular study destination for international students worldwide. An I-20 form for international students is a mandatory document. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program issues this form. 

What is an I-20?

For all US F and M visa holders, the “I-20 Form” is a certificate of Eligibility for non-immigrant student status. As an international student, when you get accepted by the SEVP-certified school, you will receive it from the DSO- designated school officials.

What are DSO, SEVIS and SEVP?

DSO- Designated School Officials serve as a connection between international students, colleges/institutions and the US Government. DSO guides international students throughout the process of studying in the US, issue necessary immigration form, maintain records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, and many more.

SEVIS- The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a web-based system used by the US Department of Homeland Security to track or monitor information on SEVP-certified schools and students who come to the UK with F1 and M1 student visas. The SEVIS fee is valid for 12 months from the date of payment.

SEVP- The Student and Exchange Visitor Program is a part of a National security investigation division. It works as a bridge between a government organisation and non-immigrant students who want to visit the USA for study purposes.

I-20 form on the type of visa

It can be two types based on the student visa. So the two types of I-20 issued by international students are-

  • For academic and language students with an F1 student visa status.
  • For vocational students with M-1 student visa status.

Though the forms are different types, they contain the same information. The following information will be recorded on the SEVIS form when you receive it. Such as-

  • SEVIS ID number.
  • Course starting and Ending date.
  • Program for studying in the US
  • Source of Funding
  • Attendance cost of your preferred institution.
  • Other personal information.

When you want to study in the UK or during your study in the UK, it is very important to keep your I-2o with you.

Requirements for I-20?

To study in the USA as an international student, I-20 is an essential thing. You need to follow the visa requirement to obtain it.

  1. Get accepted by a US university or college.
  2. Provide all information that is correct and up-to-date.
  3. You should have a sufficient amount of money to cover the tuition fees and living cost in the US.

What is the I-901 SEVIS Fee?

Paying the I-901 SEVIS fee is mandatory when you get accepted by a college or university in the US. To obtain the F1 or M1 student visa, you will be asked to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. The fee is separate from the school SEVIS administration fees or visa fees. The I-901 SEVIS fee is valid for a maximum of 12 months. Before paying the I-901 SEVIS fee, you must receive the I-20 from a DSO. Besides, before applying for a visa to enter the US to attend the study program, you have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.

You must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee if-

  • You are from a country where a visa is required to travel to the US with an F1 or M1 student visa.
  • If you are a student from a visa waiver country with an F1 or M1 student visa.
  • A non-immigrant in the US who wants to change his status from a non-immigrant to an F1 or M1 student visa status.

Documents you need to provide with your I-901 SEVIS Fee? 

There are some documents you need to provide with your I-901 SEVIS Fee. Such as-

  • Personal information like name, address, date of birth, and email address.
  • Country of your birth and citizenship.
  • School code in the I-20 form.
  • SEVIS Identification number from the I-20 Form.

When you pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, you will get a receipt. Make sure to bring the receipt with you when you attend a visa interview.

The process of an I-20 form.

As an international student, you must obtain the I-20 when you apply for an F1 or M1 student visa while studying in the US. When accepted by the SEVP-certified university or college, you will receive this from the DSO. After getting approved by the SEVP-certified school, you will be registered into SEVIS and need to pay the SEVIS fee. After getting registered by SEVIS, you will be issued this form. In the form list, there will be the start date of the program.

Is it possible to get a new I-20 form?

As an international student, you will get this form as a program acceptance. But in many circumstances, you may be asked for a new one. These are the following circumstances where you can ask for a new one-

  • If the physical I-20 form gets stolen, destroyed, or lost.
  • Your SEVIS status changed.
  • For travel endorsement.
  • Changes in personal information, study program, optional practical training etc.

AIMS Education is a student consultancy firm that helps students to study in the UK, USA, and Canada. If you are planning to study in the USA, we can offer you the top universities there. Our counsellors are always there to help you. Visit our office to learn more about the study process in the USA.

FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need I-20 to apply for a student visa in the US?

Ans: This form must be with you if you want to study in the US through an F1 or M1 student visa. 

Q. How long does it take to process an I-20?

Ans: After confirming all the required documents, it will take 2-3 weeks to process the I-20. You will receive an electronic copy by email when it is prepared.

Q. What to do after getting an I-20 form?

Ans: Right after getting this form, you need to ensure these things :-
1.Carefully fill out the DS-160 form with all your educational, academic, and work experience.
2.Schedule your US visa appointments.
3.Pay the SEVIS fee.

Q. How long can I stay in the US after my I-20 expires?

Ans: The 60-day grace period will start after it gets expires. In this time span, you can transfer to a different school or leave the US within 60 days after your current program has ended.

Q. What documents are required to apply for an F1 student visa?

1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months more than you are planning to stay in the US.
2. The DS-160 confirmation page.
3. Receipt of application fee payment
4. I-20 form.
5. Bank statement

Q. Can I request an I-20 extension, and how long can it be extended?

Ans: If you want to continue your study after your program end date, you may need to request an extension. You can make the extension request for a minimum of one semester to a maximum of one year at a time.

Q. Can I process my visa and enter the US with the electronically issued I-20?

Ans: Yes, if you have an electronic copy of a signed I-20, it will be accepted for visa appointments.

Q. Do I need an I-20 form for travel?

Ans: No, you do not need it to travel, but it is mandatory when you re-enter the US. You will be asked to keep it with the original signatures for applying for the F1 or M1 student visa. In short, if you travel outside of the US and then return to join the study program again, you must bring the I-20 form.

Q. When can I enter the US with the I-20?

Ans: You can enter the US 30 days before the course start. You will be asked to present the I-20 form at the port of entry by a US Customs and Border Protection officer.

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