I-20 form USA-Importance and Requirements



Updated On 20 September 2022


Read Time 6 minutes


I-20 form is required for students aspiring to study in US on a student visa. It is issued by the Students and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). SEVP issues I-20 forms to certified Colleges and Universities in US students. I-20 forms serve as a proof of legitimacy for students who can fund themselves in the US. It further means that the student is enrolled in accredited colleges or universities in the US.

There is no doubt that numerous students worldwide aspire to study in USA. Studying in US requires international students to fulfil various criteria. One such thing is getting the I-20 form. The student receives an I-20 form once enrolled in a certified College or University in US. This form is issued by a Designated School Official (DSO) as an eligibility certificate for a non-immigrant visa.

Every US University or College sends an I-20 form once the student has paid their fees for the term. After filling out this form, the student can apply for an F-1 Student Visa.

Importance of I-20 Form?

I-20 form is the document that should be kept safely by the student. Department of Homeland Security USA has claimed that this document is required during all times of education in USA. Studying USA is like a dream coming true for many students. Some students get into universities in USA, but their visa gets rejected. To avoid this visa rejection and the long and hectic visa process, one needs an I-20 form.

During the visa process, if the student has any queries regarding the form, they can always reach out to their DSO to avoid mistakes. Eventually, the visa process gets much smoother with an I-20 form. A student cannot apply for an F-1/ Student Visa in USA if they don’t have an I-20 form.

The I-20 form makes visa processing easier, but it still does not guarantee the visa. One must fulfil all other requirements of an F-1 Visa to acquire it. I-20 form contains all details about the students; DOB, university details, and SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) ID. From getting a visa to doing internships and jobs in the USA, one needs an I-20 form in every step of the study abroad journey.

Another use of the I-20 form is that one needs it to pay SEVIS fees. This fee has to be paid before entering the US. Information needed to complete this payment is written on an I-20 form for the student. The visa interviewer often demands an original copy of the I-20 form. This is because the form contains crucial information regarding university fee payment and how the student will pay it. One should ensure that the visa type applied is correctly mentioned in the I-20 form.

Who Requires I-20 Form USA?

Every student aspiring to study in USA requires an I-20 form. It is proof that the student is enrolled in a legitimate study program in a certified university or college in USA. All students or people applying for F or M category visas require an I-20 form. Furthermore, any eligible dependent of the applicant requires an I-20 form too.

Because of COVID-19, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement division has allowed US Universities to send Forms I-20 to international students via email. For minor students, the form is sent to the email address of a parent or legal guardian.

Considering the Coronavirus pandemic, SEVP has lifted the limitation of sending the actual I-20 form and allows universities to email the I-20 form directly to international students. The US consulate will currently consider the soft copy of I-20 form to be official when applying for the visa. It additionally implies, as of now, international students need not pay to transport expenses until additional notification

When to Get Another I-20 Form?

After receiving the initial Form I-20 for program recognition, students may receive a second I-20 form from their DSO under the following circumstances:

  • If the structure’s actual replica is destroyed or stolen
  • To support the transfer of student
  • When changes need to be made to an international student’s data.
  • In the event of an adjustment of a student’s SEVIS status (e.g., from Initial to Active)

How to Apply for I-20 Form USA?

Applying for the I-20 form is a simple five-step process; one needs to follow these steps carefully:

  1. Provide all required documents to the college or university of the US after completion of the admission process
  2. After the application, international students’ details are entered into the US government database. This database is known as Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  3. SEVIS then verifies all the given information and generates an I-20 form.
  4. DSO signs the generated I-20 form and sends it to the applicant.
  5. After one gets the I-20 form, one can request changes in it (if needed) from the DSO.

Students need to be very careful while providing information for the I-20 form. SEVIS verifies it, and if it is not correct, the student may not get the visa.

Fees and Validity for I-20 Form USA

Students need to pay a fee for the I-20 form before entering the USA. I-20 form fees for all F and M category visa applicants are $350 (changes yearly).

I-20 form serves as the legal proof of being an international student in the USA; it is valid as long as the student studies in the USA. If the student is switching the course after completing one course or applying for any other course, they need renewal for the I-20 form.

This renewal needs to be initiated before the last day of the ongoing course. One should be careful in applying for the renewal at the right time, as international students can only stay in the USA as long as their I-20 form is valid.

You can now study in USA without getting deep into formalities, leaving everything to us. Get in touch with experienced counsellors of Meridean Overseas Education Consultants. We can help you in getting into your dream university and guide you through the visa process. Call us at 1800-1230-00011 (toll-free) or mail us at application02@meridean.org.


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