The Ultimate Guide To I-20 Form For Indian Students

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Studying in the US is a dream for many students. But before that, one should know the process of applying and the necessary documentation for the same. Earlier, the process was very difficult, but now it has been eased off. In this article, we will discuss the I 20 Form and all the documents necessary to get an I-20 visa to study in the United States of America. 

I 20 Form USA
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Overview of I-20 Form

To study at a US university, a student must qualify for one F-1 or M-1 visa category. For this, it is mandatory to get an I-20 form. After you get admission into a US university, you will receive an I 20 Form from the DSO.  The I 20 Form is also called Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant student status. The I 20 Form is issued only to students accepted into a SEVP certified school. 

Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

It is a US-based monitoring agency that supervises the students having M and F visas. It works with public agencies to ensure that all students having these visas should follow all the prescribed guidelines and regulations. Educational Institutes, normally, admit international students to full-time programs. Courses offered by accredited schools are certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. 

SEVP works to maintain financial and educational testimonials in an online database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVP). To transfer details of the student’s finances into the SEVIS database, universities seek information from the SEVP. The information includes evidence of income, account statements, and other information. 

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The Ultimate Guide To I-20 Form For Indian Students

Structure of the I-20 Form

It consists of 3 pages:-

Page 1 Contains

  • The SEVIS ID
  • The student’s basic information like name, date of birth, country name, and citizenship details.
  • Admissions type (F-1 or M-1, F2 or M-2)
  • School information (school name and address)
  • Information about the program— program name and duration of the program.
  • Financial information, funding sources, funding costs, etc. 
  • DSO signed and dated school attestation. 
  • Student attestation, signed and dated by him/her.

Page 2 Contains

  • Employment authorization
  • Information on change of status
  • Table form event history 
  • Travel signatures
  • Other authorization as per the requirement

Page 3 (Instruction Page)

It is an instruction page containing payment instructions. The candidate is supposed to pay SEVA fees to enter the US. The fees are charged by USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). We will discuss SEVA fees further in the article.

Avail I-20 Form

You receive the I-20 form from the university where you’ve got admission. Usually, Form I-20 is sent along with your admission letter or soon after. There is a provision that if you want to change any information or if there are any changes that you are required to make in the form, then you have to inform the same to the Designated School Official. Before issuing I-20, universities require students to complete some supplementary steps.

Students are required to submit the following documents:-

  • Bank certifications/ Bank statement
  • Sponsor certification   
  • Information about sources of funding
  • Loan sanction letters (Optional)
  • Scholarship letters (Optional)

After verifying the above documents, the university proceeds to issue the I-20 to the enrolled students. 

I-20 Form Uses

It is one of the most significant documents that you should keep safe, as it is required all through your international student life. 

It has the following uses:-

  • After receiving the I 20 Form, you should go ahead to pay the I-1901 SEVIS fee. This fee is mandatory to be paid before entering the US. To complete the payment process, information from the I-20 Form is required.
  • While applying for a visa, the visa officer can demand an I-20 form’s original copy as it is crucial for the visa application process. Apart from the financial information concerning the program fees and how you are going to reimburse your fees, the form also contains details about the program you wish to undertake. 
  • As soon as you arrive in the US, you might be asked to show your I-20 Form by the customs and border protection officer. You are permitted to enter the country before 30 days of the commencement of your course. 
  • To get the advantage of being an international student, the I-20 Form is very crucial. To secure employment or a driving license or a social security number, this form is also used. 

Circumstances to Modify or Change an I-20 Form

In case you want to make any changes or update the I-20 Form, you can do it under the following circumstances:-

  • Any change in personal information.
  • Any change in the program/university you are studying. 
  • Any visa status update.
  • Any change in program start or end date.
  • Practical Training (OPT and CPT)
  • Leave of absence.

Suppose a student applies to several universities and gets admission to most of them. In that case, the student will be given time to decide which university to attend. You can apply for a visa with only one I-20 form. 

If you are going to stay with your dependents, then you need to have an I-20 form for them additionally. It is mostly provided by the university that admits you. But the dependent must be qualified for a visa category excluding F-2 or M-2.

Documents Required for an I-20 Visa

The I-20 form is mainly for a non-immigrant visa. The F-1 and M-1 student visas are issued, in advance, up to 120 days from the start date of the study. You must carry your visa that matches the I-20 form for your visa interview. SEVIS fee receipt should also be carried along with the form.

Now, let’s look at the three kinds of visas for which the I-20 form is given.

F-1 VisaM- 1 VisaJ – 1 Visa
All those students who wish to enrol in the core academic curriculum in the USA tend to apply for an F-1 visaAll those students who wish to enrol in a vocational program in the USA apply for an M-1 visa. This visa is also called a non-academic student visaThis type of visa is applied by scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program. They are mainly working professionals who go to the USA on an exchange program

I-20 is valid for the entire period of study. In case a student fails to complete the course before the date mentioned on I-20, they may request an extension, but the request should be made before the visa expires. 

Time Required to Get I-20

After the submission of the financial documents, it usually takes around 1-2 weeks for the I-20 form to be processed. You will be provided with a tracking number through your mail with the SEVA number. 

Steps to Follow After you Get I-20 Form

The following steps need to be followed after receiving your I-20:-

Step 1. Fill DS160 form

The DS160 form contains all the details the visa office might need while taking your interview. It mainly includes:-

  • Personal details
  • Education details
  • Work details

While filling DS160 form, you have to make sure that all the information is true to your knowledge. All details should be as per your passport. You will require your SEVIS number which will already be inscribed on the right-hand side of the I-20 form, near the barcode. You have to create your application, fill in all necessary details, and submit it. After submitting, you will get a confirmation page, save and take a printout of it. 

Step 2. Scheduling your US Visa appointment

To schedule your visa appointment, you have to create your account on

Then you have to register your account and fill up all the required information. Immediately after you are done with the registration process, you will be asked to pay $160. As soon as the payment is made, a receipt will be generated automatically. Then you have to choose the time slot for the interview. You can also postpone your visa interview at no cost twice. Mainly Visa interviews are conducted at the US Embassy in New Delhi.

Step 3. Fees Payment (SEVIS)

Before your visa interview, you should pay SEVIS fees of $200 and secure the receipt. It has no connection with your visa appointment scheduling process. You just need a SEVIS fees receipt before your interview. You can do this step before step 2 as well. Step 3 is very crucial as without paying the fees, the application cannot proceed further. 

I 20 form


The process is quite technical. In case you want to know something more about your I-20 form, you can always contact the university official who sent the I-20 form to you. It is to be noted here that the I-20 form is required if you wish to pursue any course in the USA only and not any other country. Just follow the steps carefully, so you don’t make any mistakes. For more visa-related queries contact Leap Scholar Study Abroad Counsellors. All the Best!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to process the I-20 Form?

Ans. It usually takes 2-3 Weeks to process the I-20 Form after document submission.

2. Can I get I-20 Form online?

Ans. Cause of COVID-19 restrictions DSOs electronically sends I-20 Forms to student’s email IDs listed in the SEVIS.

3. How long can I stay in US when the Form I-20 expires?

Ans. F-1 Students are eligible to stay for 60 days after the expiration of Form I-20. But they must use the “meeting degree requirements date” to become eligible for 60 days grace period.

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Atima Khurana

Atima has 12+ years of experience in the field of overseas education and she specializes in U.S. admissions.

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