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Questions from DSOs: Is English Proficiency Testing Required to Issue the Form I-20?

October 13, 2016

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regulations require designated school officials (DSOs) to provide information on a school’s English proficiency requirements and whether a prospective F‑1 or M‑1 student has met those requirements on a student’s Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

Consistent use of the English proficiency field by DSOs is important because it directly relates to who is eligible to be issued a Form I-20 for F-1 or M-1 student status for a certain program. In terms of English proficiency, the Form I-20 must reflect the school's current admission policies for the program the student was accepted to and plans to enroll in while they are in the United States.

Programs that do not require English proficiency prior to full admission should select that they do not require English proficiency on the Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.” If the school conducts on-site testing and the student must be tested on-site, the Form I-20 should show that the student does not meet the language proficiency requirements and DSOs should make note of the fact that students will be tested for language proficiency upon arrival. To review the final English Proficiency policy guidance, please visit the Operating Instructions "Policy Guidance" tab on For any additional questions, please contact the SEVP Response Center.

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