In order to be qualified as a student in the United States, you must complete Form I-20 which is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status form. It is also important to understand what this form is and why it is necessary to study in the United States. After officials notify you that you have been accepted to a school that has a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), you will be provided two versions of this form by the Designated School Official (DSO):

  • F Students – Students accepted into an academic or language school are considered F-1 students and will receive Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status For Academic and Language Students.
  • M Students – Students accepted into vocational schools are considered M-1 students and will receive the Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status For Vocational Students.

Who Qualifies as an F-1 Student?

Students are entering the United States to pursue a full course of study at an accredited university are provided with F-1 Student Visas. The accredited school must also be approved by the Attorney General. The student must also meet the following criteria:

  • Credentials and ability to qualify for a full course of study at the institution;
  • Be able to demonstrate status as a bona fide student with no intention of immigrating to the United States permanently and must have strong ties to their home country;
  • Demonstrate a strong desire to study at an established institution or in a language training program in the United States approved by the Attorney General;
  • Be fluent in the English language;
  • Possess funds sufficient enough for them to complete the program

To learn more about F-1 student visas, review our information page:

Why Do I Need Form I-20?

There are several important reasons why you will need a Form I-20. You will be required to pay an I-901 SEVIS Fee. You will receive an I-20 from every DSO that accepts you into their program, but you will only use the Form I-20 given to you by the school you choose to attend in order to pay the fee. You will also need the Form I-20 to apply for your nonimmigrant visa at your country’s United States Embassy or Consulate. You will need to apply 120 days prior to the date on your Form I-20 and you must be sure that the type of visa you receive matches the type on your Form I-20. Be sure to review information found on the website of the Embassy or Consulate for specific instructions that may exist in your country.

When Will I Need Form I-20?

You will need to present the Form I-20 when you enter the United States to the United States Customs and Border Protection Officers when you arrive at the port of entry. You may arrive up to 30 days prior to the date on your form. If you will need to apply for a driver’s license or Social Security Number while in the United States, you will need to present the Form I-20 to document that you are legally enrolled in a program of study.

Set Up a Consultation for Assistance With Student Visas!

An F or M Student Visa can provide numerous opportunities to motivated students, but it is important to execute the visa properly. Therefore, it is recommended that anyone who is considering entering the United States with F or M Status consult with an attorney. Pride Immigration Law Firm PLLC offers consultations by phone or at our office so that you can make an informed decision before proceeding with your case. Call our firm or contact us online to set up your consultation today.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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