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How to Get Your FormI20

Chase Hall • 570-408-6120 (T) • 570-408-4904 (F) • Email

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How to Get Your Form I-20


Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status


Important:  The information on the following pages carefully explains how to get your Form I-20.  Please read it and follow the directions completely to avoid delays in getting your I-20.


International Student & Faculty Services


Center for Global Education and Diversity


Wilkes University


All information used with permission.  IETS:  International Education Training Services


Now that you are planning to be a student…There are two things you should not do!


1.    Do not enter the U.S. with a B-1, B-2 or B-1/2 visa.


If you use a B visa to enter the United States you are saying “I’m here as a visitor” only.  Since you contacted our school about full-time study, this would be viewed as a “fraudulent entry” and you could be refused permission to stay longer than six months or to extend or change your status.  Do not listen to people who say it is easy to enter the country as a visitor and change your status.  It is not true.  B visitors are prohibited by U.S. law from pursuing a course of study prior to obtaining a change of status to F-1 student.


If your study plans are not certain and you want to enter the U.S. to visit schools, you must explain this on your visa application and ask the visa officer for a B-2 visa with the words “Prospective Student” noted on it or have the words added to your B visa if you already have one.


2.    Do not enter the U.S. without a Visa (unless you are Canadian).


If you are from a country from which you can enter the U.S. as a visitor by showing a round trip airline ticket, do not do this.  If you enter without a visa, you will be permitted to stay for only 90 days.  You will not be given more time or allowed to change to student status.


What is a Form I-20 and why do you need one?


A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status.  It certifies that 1) you are or expect to be a “bona fide” student, 2) you meet our admissions requirements at Wilkes University, 3) you will pursue a full course of study, and 4) you have proved to us that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. without working illegally or suffering from poverty.


You need a Form I-20 to obtain an F-1 student visa or status, or to keep lawful F-1 status when transferring or changing schools within the United States.


Does everybody need an I-20?


No.  Some international students do not need I-20s.  B visitors and F-2 dependents must obtain an I-20 and apply for a change of status to F-1 student to pursue a course of study that is not avocational or recreational in nature.  If you are maintaining another immigrant status in the U.S. you do not have to have an I-20 and may attend school full- or part-time.  Dependent children in E, H, I, J, L, M, N, O, P, R, and S status need to change status after their 21st birthday or if they marry.  If you have no legal status, you may attend school but you are not eligible to change status and do not need an I-20.


These are the rules for getting your Form I-20.


1.    You must be a “bona fide” student, accepted to a full-time program of study.


2.    You must prove to the Wilkes University that you can support the costs of living and studying in the U.S. for every year of your program of study.  This is required by U.S. law.


Do not expect to work in the U.S. to help meet your annual costs.  On-campus employment is limited and competitive; off-campus employment is strictly controlled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Carefully review our school’s “Estimated Annual Financial Requirements for International Students” later in this I-20 section.  Figure out your annual costs on the worksheet that follows this section.  This is the amount that you must prove that you can support for every year in your program of study.  (Estimate a minimum of four years for a Bachelor’s Degree and a minimum of two years for a Master’s Degree).


These requirements are not negotiable.  They represent a modest average budget that does not include luxuries of any kind.  We strongly recommend that you budget at least 10% more, if possible.  Too little money causes pain and distress.  We insist that students and their families look closely at the costs of living and studying in the United States and make careful plans to be sure your needs will be met.


Expect annual increases in tuition and living costs of approximately 10%.


3.    Read and follow the following instructions very carefully.  You cannot complete this process without following them step-by-step.  We may have to ask you to give us more evidence of your financial ability—perhaps more than once.  The U.S. government requires that we be absolutely sure, to the best of our ability, of your financial situation and that you will have enough financial support to cover the full costs of your stay in the U.S.


Sources of Financial Support


Your financial support can come from any combination of the following sources in the U.S. or abroad.


1.    Funds from Sponsors (parents, relatives, friends, organizations)


You may have as many sponsors as you need.  Sponsors may provide you with support in the form of cash and/or room and board.  Free room and board is when you live with someone and don’t have to pay for your room or food.


It is highly recommended that at least part of your financial support comes from your home country.  This is important in obtaining your student visa.


A sponsor should promise only as much money as s/he is able to give you.  Some sponsors believe that the more money they promise to give the easier it will be for you to get your I-20.  The most common reason for rejection of financial documents is that we do not believe the sponsor can afford to give as much as promised.  A sponsor should promise only what s/he intends to give and only as much as can be afforded.


2.    Personal Funds


Personal funds come from your own resources, not those of your relatives.  Unless you have enough cash to support yourself for your entire program of study or can prove other sources of personal income, you will need a sponsor with an income sufficient to support you.


3.    Funds from Wilkes University


These funds include scholarships.  Not all college support covers the entire program of study or all expenses, so you may need additional support to meet your minimum annual costs.  You will be notified of any of these funds’ availability when you receive your acceptance letter to Wilkes.


Documentary Evidence Requirements


Complete the application for the Form I-20 (attached) and submit it with all of the necessary evidence of financial capability directly to the International Student & Faculty Services Office by mail or fax.


WARNING:  We recommend that you do this at the same time as you are applying to the university.  That way, once you are accepted, your Form I-20 can be issued quickly.


WARNING:  We also recommend that you make the appointment for your visa interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country at this time.  Then, once your information and acceptance from Wilkes arrives, you will be ready to meet with the consular officer.


All documents you give us must be:


1.    Less than two months old.


2.    In English (We cannot review documents that are not in English).


3.    Photocopies or faxes—not originals.  You will need the originals of all the documents you have sent us to take to the American Embassy or Consulate when we send you your I-20.


4.    Sponsor Affidavits must be notarized, or signed by the sponsor in the presence of a notary public.  The notary public must also sign and put his/her official seal on the affidavit.  There are no notaries public at all U.S. embassies and consulates.  In the U.S., most neighborhood pharmacists, lawyers and accountants are also notaries.  There are notaries in all countries, though the names for them may be different.  There are officials licensed by the national or regional government to take sworn statements for courts of law or to witness contracts and property deeds.


Evidence Required


Sponsors of Cash Support


1.    Affidavit of annual cash support.  This form may be photocopied for each sponsor.  All questions must be answered.  Each form must be notarized.


2.    Proof of income.


Individual Sponsor (any of the following):


Employer’s salary statement on letterhead stationery with most recent pay stub, or


    If self-employed, salary estimate from private accountant or bank, or


    Income tax returns or receipts with most recent pay stub, or


    Pay stubs for last six months, or


    Documentation of investments


Company Sponsor:


    Submit the most recent “Profit and Loss Statement” for the company.


WARNING:  If there is no proof of income submitted, bank statements must prove that there are sufficient funds to cover the entire program of study.  Statement balances will be totaled and divided by the number of years in your program of study to determine the amount available to you for each year.


WARNING:  A company’s income is not the income of the owner of the business and will not be accepted as proof of income.  You must provide an official statement of the salary paid to the owner/sponsor.


3.    Bank statement in the name of the sponsor only.  A monthly statement of balances and deposits indicating the type of currency is necessary.


WARNING:  If a bank statement is in the name of more than one person, each individual must submit an affidavit of support.


WARNING:  We cannot accept bank statements that do not specify monthly balances and deposits.


Sponsors of Free Room and Board


1.    Affidavit (notarized) of Free Room and Board


2.    Proof of Income (any of the following):


Employer’s salary statement on letterhead stationery with most recent pay stub, or


If self-employed, salary estimate from private accountant or bank, or


Income tax returns or receipts with most recent pay stub, or


Pay stubs for last six months, or


Documentation of investments


3.    Photocopy of Lease, Deed, Rent Receipts, Phone Bill or Electric Bill


WARNING:  If you are presently in the U.S., you must be living with the sponsor at the time of filing this application for this to be counted towards your means of support.


Personal Funds:


    Bank/Asset Statement in your name.  A monthly statement of balances and


deposits indicating the type of currency is necessary.


School Funds:


    Copy of your Award Letter or Contract stating exactly what you will be


receiving and for how long.


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