To study as an F or M student in the United States you need a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status." Do you know what it is and why it is important?
After officials notify you of acceptance to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, a designated school official (DSO) at that school will give you one of two different types of this form:
- F Students:If you receive acceptance into an academic or language school and will attend school in F-1 status, you will receive the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – For Academic and Language Students.”
- M Students: If you receive acceptance into a vocational school and will attend school in M-1 status, you will receive the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status – For Vocational Students.
You will need the Form I-20 for any of the following:
- Paying your I-901 SEVIS fee: You will receive a Form I-20 from a DSO from every school that accepts you. Use the Form I-20 from the school you decide to attend to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
- Applying for your nonimmigrant visa at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate: Read the embassy or consulate’s website for more specific instructions. You need to apply 120 days before the date listed on your Form I-20. Make sure the type of visa you receive matches the I-20 type you have (F or M).
- Entering the United States: Bring your Form I-20 with you when you enter the United States. You will present it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry when you arrive. You may arrive up to 30 days before the start date listed on your Form I-20.
- Applying for a driver’s license or Social Security number: If you need to apply for a driver’s license or Social Security number, you may need to bring the Form I-20 with you to prove you are legally enrolled in a program of study.
If you have any questions about the Form I-20, speak with the DSO at your school. Remember that only DSOs at SEVP-certified schools can issue a Form I-20 to an F or M student.