All about I-20

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Collegepond Counsellors (Jimeet Sanghavi)

Updated on May 7, 2021

Student VISA | 3 min read
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You had been waiting for this moment with bated breath! Just received your I-20, you are on cloud nine and all set to embark on a fresh journey to your dream destination for your higher studies. I-20 indeed is an official stamp to your eligibility and approval to study in the university that sends you this much sought-after document.


What is an I-20?
Form I-20 is an official endorsement by universities that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. It certifies that
1. You meet all necessary admission requirements of the concerned university
2. You will pursue a full time study of a particular programme in the university
3. You have demonstrated your financial capabilities fully to fund your education at the concerned college / university without having to work illegally.

Before a university sends an I-20 document to you, they may ask for one or more than one of the below listed:

1. Some university may ask you to deposit certain non-refundable amount to secure your participation before sending your I-20
2. Some colleges ,after sending you official confirmation of your admit may ask you to send a bank solvency certificate from your bank, that confirms to your financial capability to fund your education, stay and incidental expenses during the period of your intended stay in the US. Some universities may not accept solvency certificate and may demand for a bank statement instead.
3. Some colleges may send the I-20 straight away without asking for any of the above.

Make sure you do not go about accumulating I-20 from different universities to flaunt to your friends. Please understand, there are many deserving aspirants in queue and you may be waning away their chances by holding on I-20 you do not need.

Arrival of your I-20 marks the start of Visa application process. You must ensure that all information such as your course beginning and start date, program and sponsorship details on your I-20 are correct, before you apply for your F-1 Visa. If at all there is any discrepancy you must immediately get in touch with the university advisor and request for rectification.

Please make sure that you request for I-20 through trusted courier services like DHL or FEDEX. You may end up paying 30 -40 Dollars extra but this will safeguard your document from getting lost on its way.

How is I-20 generated?
Once a student is through with the admission process his personal details are fed in U.S government database called SEVIS. The SEVIS consecutively processes the information and generates an I-20.The I-20 thus obtained from the government database is signed and stamped by the designated university official and sent out to the applicant. Your I-20 includes Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) assigned number that is crucial for applying for VISA. I-20 is a very important document and should be kept safely as one may require producing it at the port of entry to the US along with one's passport.

Various uses of I-20
1. To get your F-1 visa
2. It can act as your academic and legal proof
3. You need this form get your social security number and to get your driving license in the US
4. If you are leaving US and visiting other country during the period of your stay in US you need to carry I-20
5. It is necessary to reapply for Visa and re-enter USA

Upon receipt of your I-20, you become eligible to apply for F-1 visa and only once you get F-1 visa you become eligible to study in the US. While you make the most of this wondrous multi-purpose document, always remember to keep it safe throughout your stay in the US.

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