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What is a Form I-20 and Why do You Need One?

December 19, 2010

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:

  • you are or expect to be a “bona fide” student;
  • you meet issuing University’s admissions requirements;
  • you will pursue a full course of study;
  • you proved to us that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. 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-l status when transferring or changing schools within the U.S.

Students must notify their current institution to transfer their SEVIS record to the University prior to the I-20 or DS-2019 issuance.

Does Everyone Need An I-20?

NO, some international students do not need I-20’s. J-1 students need a Form DS-2019 and should ask us for that application. F-2 dependents that want to study full time, must obtain an I-20 and apply for a change of status to F-l student. 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.

These Are The Rules For Getting Your Form I-20:

  • You must be a “bona fide” student, accepted to a full-time program of study
  • You must prove to university that you can support the costs of living & studying in the U.S. for one year. U.S. law requires this.
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