Obtaining an I-20

The Form I-20 is the document you will need in order to apply for the F-1 student visa. Northern Illinois University will send you the I-20 after you have been admitted to the university and provided information about your financial support. Please remember to bring your Form I-20, Admission Letter, and Financial Information to your Visa Interview.

Upon receiving your I-20, you will need to do the following

  • Please read all the information entered on your I-20. If any information on that form is incorrect, please contact ISFO immediately! If you have dependents (husband or wife, and/or children under the age of 21) who will be accompanying you to the US in F-2/J-2 status, please check to make sure that a separate I-20/DS 2019 is enclosed for each person.
  • Sign and date the Form I-20 at Line 11, on page one.
  • Pay I-901 Fee. Follow instructions for pre-payment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SEVIS fee.
  • Take the Form I-20, your passport (valid for at least 6 months), your admission letter, and proof of your finances to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Note: some embassies require you to make an appointment in advance. Please contact the embassy or consular office directly for more information.
  • When you apply for the F-1 student visa, it is very important to prove to the US consular official that you intend to return to your home country after you complete your degree at Northern Illinois University. Such proof may consist of a job offer in your home country, immediate family in your home country, a bank account or property that you own in your home country, etc. More Visa Tips
  • Please do not use the B-2 (visitor) visa or the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States. Students entering the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program may stay in the U.S. only 90 days and may not change their status or extend their stay. People who enter the U.S. using the B-2 tourist/visitor visa are typically only allowed to stay in the United States for a short period of time and are not eligible for any form of employment. Furthermore, according to government immigration regulations, it is not legal to begin a course of study in the U.S. on a B-2 visa. Intending students cannot begin their studies until their status change from visitor to student has been approved. It also may be very difficult to change a B-2 visa to an F-1 student visa after arrival to the U.S.

Other immigration questions may be found at on our immigration advising pages.