Source: Parth Vijayvergiya
I-20 (also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students) visa is given to ICE and SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) students mainly. SEVP is a document issued by SEVP-certified schools (colleges, universities).
This visa is like a travel document given by the USA embassy before entering the state stating that the primary purpose of a student coming to the USA is for educational purposes.
This I-20 form is part of the USA visa for Students and Exchange Visitors. When a student from India is selected to any institution in USA, the institute sends an appointment letter and I-20 form which provides all the details of the school/college like the course, address, department details, number of years to complete the course, fee details, etc.
Changes in the format
The latest structure of I-20 was updated on June 26, 2015. The changes were updated for the standardization of names in SEVIS. Some of the changes were:
- More prominence to SEVIS number
- Better differentiation of student information from the dependent information
- General design modifications that include shifting the instructions to the third page of the Form I-20, as well as the omission of the barcode, and the blocks for visa and port of entry information.
What is the Structure of i-20 form?
- The SEVIS ID
- The student’s biographical information like name, countries of birth and citizenship, date of birth.
- Class of admissions ( F-1 or M-1, F-2 or M-2)
- School Information (school name, address etc.)
- Information about the program – program name, length of program, time period of the program
- Financial information for the first year students about their funding sources, funding costs
- School attestation, signed and dated by the DSO
- Student attestation, signed and dated by the student
- Employment authorization
- Information on change of status
- Event history (in form of a table)
- Other authorizations
- Travel signatures
Page 3 is the instructions page.
There is a certain amount to pay called as the SEVIS fee after receiving the I-20 form from the university. It is mandatory to pay this fee to enter in the United States. In order to register the SEVIS number into the database, student need to pay this fee to the USCIS (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services )
What are the Documents required for i-20 Visa?
As mentioned before, an I-20 form is for the application of non-immigrant visa. The F-1 and M-1 student visas are issued up to 120 days in advance of the study start date and the type of student visa should match the I-20 form (F-1 or M-1). It is important to carry your I-20 form for the visa interview; along with the form, it is necessary to carry the SEVIS fee receipt as proof. The counsellor officer may accept a copy of the Form I-20 in limited circumstances that warrant visa issuance prior to you receiving the original Form I-20.
As discussed before, there are 2 kinds of visas F-1 or M-1 for which I-20 form is given. Let’s see what the difference between the two of them is
|Students who enrol themselves for core academic curriculum in the USA are qualified for F-1 form||Students who enrol themselves for a vocational program in the USA are qualified for M-1 form|
As per the rule book, I-20 is valid throughout the period of the study course. However for certain reason, if a student is not able to complete the course before the date on I-20, a request has to be applied for the extension before the expiration date.
After receiving the I-20 form student can apply for F-1 visa appointment with the US embassy residing in India. They need to apply 120 days before the date mentioned on the I-20.
The I-20 is an immensely significant document while applying for facilities such as a social security number or a driver’s license. It is also used to place in front of an employer if a student gets a job on or off-campus, Students on F-1 are able to work for a maximum of twenty hours a week during term and full-time during vacations.
Some FAQs of I-20 forms
Ques: Is there a need to submit a financial document with the application or wait to know if I am admitted?
You may submit your financial documents after the admission is confirmed as the faster details are submitted the quicker I-20 form is issued.
Ques: How long will it take to get I-20?
After submission of the financial documents, it generally takes 1 to 2 weeks for an I-20 to be processed and received by the applicant. When sending the admission letter and I-20 abroad, you will be notified of your tracking number directly from the email and the information and SEVIS number will be mentioned in the email itself.
Ques: What is the total amount I need to show on my financial documents?
The financial documents are an important part of the I-20 form, the amount to be shown completely depends on the university and for different Undergraduate and Post-graduate courses.
Ques: My name in the passport is not the way I want it on the I-20, what can be done then?
The conventions of the Department of Homeland Security declared that the name on the I-20 must match the name on the passport. Therefore, OIE is functioned to issue the I-20 to match the name exactly as it is noted on the passport. Also, first and middle name are required to appear in the same “first name” field. Most Americans have only first names and last names. Hence, it is convenient for them to keep the same name in both passport and I-20 forms but it’s not the case for other students.
Hence, some students make the choice to update the passport name to a more American/Western format, i.e. first/given name and last/family name. After it is updated, a copy should be sent to the university so that they can make the changes to the I-20 form.
The documents required for the F-1 visa interview –
- A valid passport
- The non-immigrant visa application, Form DS-160
- The SEVIS application fee payment receipt
- Original I-20, approved and signed by the university
- Copy of interview appointment letter.
For the I-20 form, the university basically asks for the passport copy and the financial documents (financial support proof, funding sources)
The financial documents contain many things like
In UT Dallas University the students need to make a financial affidavit which contains student financial certification, the source of the financial support, sponsor financial certification, bank certification, and the estimated expenses
The other documents required are-
- Bank Statement – The bank statement should contain information like the name of the account holder, the account number in English under the bank letterhead, type of account (savings/current/deposit), balance in the account, data of issuance. It should be of past 6 months (of the sponsors)
- Loan Sanction Letters – If any loan taken the document or letter must contain the bank letterhead, amount of loan given, date of issuance.
- Business sponsors – If the education is being sponsored by a business, not an individual they must present.A letter from the owner of the company on company letterhead. This letter must state that business funds can be used towards the student’s education. The company must also provide a bank letter or statement that conforms to the requirements.
- Proof that you intend to return back to your country – Documents such as estate documents/sale deeds in your name are the most apt in this case. Anything that you own and that is grounded in your country with substantial proof is good. Also helpful are auditor’s evaluation of jewellery that you own.
- Original Evidence of financial resources – Proof of liquid resources sufficient to pay for the entire first year of education and living expenses for the first year as well as proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining year(s) of studies, dated at least a few days before the pre-determined date of the visa interview.
- Original Letters from respective authorities on their letterhead declaring that items such as mutual funds, shares, PPF, Provident fund, Fixed Deposits, etc are liquid and can be redeemed before the maturity date, dated 4-5 days prior to visa interview date.
- Proof of one’s relationship to the sponsor (such as a birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent and original tax forms, and the sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates
In Section – 7 of the I-20 you need to fill in details of the funding for first-year expenses. This includes tuition, living expenses, expenses of dependents and other expenses. One must be able to prove that they have immediate funds available to cover this amount.
For pointers, the financial documents must follow the following guidelines:
- show liquid assets that can be conveniently transformed into cash if and when the need arises
- show the date of issuance and be less than 6 months old at the time the I-20 or DS-2019 is issued
- be written in English, or supported by official translation
- clearly stating the currency of funds