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A Complete Guide On The I-20 Process For An F-1 Visa

The I-20 Process For An F-1 Visa

Written by Shreya Berry

Shreya has expertise in writing engaging content for the readers and has a deep interest in unique applications of technology in various domains. She has worked closely on projects with Neil Patel Digital, Hindustan Times, News 18 and Shiksha.

October 23, 2020

Type I-20 is an essential document used in the United States for studying. It directs your educational journey in essence. Yet, most students have no proper understanding of what it is and how they can get one for themselves.  Here is all you need to know about the I-20 process for an F-1 visa requirement and also how to fill i-20 form.

What Does Type I-20 Mean?

Form I-20, also known as the Non-immigrant Student Status Certificate of Eligibility, is a document given to international students with an F1 or M1 visa status by SEVP-approved American educational institutions. This effectively tells the U.S. government that an American institution has admitted you and is eligible for a visa for student status. So, you might say Type I-20 is the first step for international students towards American education.

Students with J-visas will not obtain Form I-20. 

Important information such as name, SEVIS ID number, study program, financials, school, student certificates, and school code is included in Form I-20. This form will be requested at different points, from airport check-ins to school admission; you should keep it safe.

The agreement has a separate Job Authorization portion as well. If their field of study allows them to work or plan to work in the United States, F and J visa students can fill this out. For M visa holders, this is not applicable.

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Who Needs Form I-20?

Form I-20 is intended solely for international students looking to study in the United States. More precisely, it is for students with M1 and F1 visas. So, the type of visa you will receive from USCIS is also determined by Form I-20.

Here are the conditions to be eligible for Form I-20:

  • You should fulfill the educational criteria of the program you are applying for.
  • You have been admitted to an educational institution accredited by SEVP in the U.S.
  • Both written and verbal, you can display the appropriate degree of English proficiency.

In addition to that, before granting your student visa, the USCIS will search for other conditions, such as ample funds in your bank account and property held in your home country.

In the U.S. and beyond, this guide will be used during the student life cycle. You can process the following activities using Type I-20:

What Is The Fees Of The SEVIS I-901? 

The USCIS uses a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) portal to manage and retrieve student data as appropriate. Until applying for a student visa, all international students must be registered through the SEVIS portal. They would pay a fee of $200 for this. 

But they must have Form I-20 issued by their DSO to pay the SEVIS fee and submit the following details:

  • Name, address of your native country, date of birth, email address
  • Country of birth and citizenship at present
  • School code as referred to on Form I-2020
  • SEVIS ID number is found on Form I-2020

You will receive a receipt that will be asked for on various applications after you have paid the sum.

Requesting A Non-Immigrant Visa

You need to apply for a student visa to come to the United States to attend classes after being granted Form I-20 and your SEVIS fee receipt. It would be best if you had a non-immigrant student visa for this. You are permitted to join the United States 30 days before the start date of your program, as specified on Form I-20.

One can be expected to fill out and submit Form DS-160, Online Non immigrant Visa Application, to begin the non-immigrant visa process. You have to apply for a student visa that suits the type of Form I-20, i.e., Student visa F1 for Type I-20 of F. You will then be asked to attend embassy interviews, after which a final decision will be made. The F1 and M1 student visas are given up to 120 days in advance of the start date of your program. So, as soon as your Form I-20 is released, you can apply for a non-immigrant visa.

Entering The U.S.

You need to display your Form I-20, among other documents at the check-ins, when entering the United States either by land, water, or air. 

Most academic programs have student benefits related to them. Form I-20 is required to assert these. You can apply for almost all of them because Form I-20 legally proves that you are enrolled at an American university or college. 

Bringing Your Dependents To The United States

One of the advantages of a student visa for F1 or M1 is that you can carry your dependents to the U.S. with you. For each of your dependents that you intend to bring to the United States to stay with you during the duration of your visa, Form I-20 is also required.

In some situations, a new Form I-20 will be given to you by your DSO, which will replace the old I-20 paper. This is going to be the case if:

  • The previous text, I-20, was lost or misplaced.
  • You’re applying for permission to move.
  • There’s a transition, like from initial to active, in your SEVIS status.
  • During the study, there was a significant change, such as a change in name, address, study program, and training.

You should pay careful attention to detail when going through the I-20 process for an F-1 visa; otherwise, there is a high risk of rejection. The charges are, however, non-refundable. So, if your application is refused, you will not seek a refund. You can get in touch with your DSO or your education consultant if you have any questions.

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