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Form I-20

If you're an international student planning to study in the United States, you'll definitely come across Form I-20, officially known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This form is issued by U.S. schools to students who are accepted into a program of study. It's a critical document that you'll need to apply for your F-1 student visa, which allows you to enter the U.S. to study. Think of Form I-20 as your ticket to start your educational journey in the U.S., as it includes important details about your school, program, and financial information. Let's dive into some common questions about Form I-20.

What is an I-20 form used for?

Form I-20 is used by international students to apply for an F-1 student visa. It proves that you've been accepted into a U.S. educational institution and that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself while studying. It’s also needed for entry into the U.S. and for maintaining your student status during your stay.


How do I get an I-20 request form?

To get an I-20, you first need to apply and be accepted by a U.S. school that is approved to enroll international students. Once you’re accepted, the school's Designated School Official (DSO) will provide you with Form I-20 after you submit the necessary financial documents to prove you can afford your education and living expenses.


How much does Form I-20 cost?

There is no direct cost for the I-20 form itself, as it is issued by your school once you’re accepted. However, you’ll need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, which is $350 for F-1 students, and later the visa application fee, which varies by country but is generally around $160.


What is Form I-20 for F-1 status?

Form I-20 is the document that certifies you are eligible for F-1 student status. It provides all the information required for the U.S. embassy or consulate to issue you an F-1 visa, and it helps you maintain your status while studying in the U.S. by documenting your course of study and financial situation.


Is the I-20 the same as an F-1 visa?

No, Form I-20 is not the same as an F-1 visa. The I-20 is a document issued by your school that you need to apply for an F-1 visa. The F-1 visa is the actual visa stamped in your passport by the U.S. consulate that allows you to enter the United States to study.


Does an I-20 allow you to work?

Form I-20 itself does not authorize you to work. However, it is required for you to apply for work authorization, such as on-campus employment, Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Curricular Practical Training (CPT), all of which have their own specific rules and requirements.


Is the I-20 an employment authorization document?

No, the I-20 is not an employment authorization document. It’s a certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status. For employment, you would need separate authorization like OPT or CPT.


Who is issuing authority for I-20?

The issuing authority for Form I-20 is the Designated School Official (DSO) at the U.S. educational institution where you have been accepted. The DSO is responsible for signing and providing you with the I-20 form after verifying your financial and academic qualifications.


How many days does it take to get the I-20 form?

The time it takes to receive Form I-20 can vary, but typically, it takes a few weeks after you’ve been accepted and submitted all the required financial documentation. Each school has its own processing times, so it's best to check directly with your institution.


I hope this helps clarify what Form I-20 is and how it fits into your journey as an international student in the U.S. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out. Good luck with your studies!

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