How to Get Your Form I-20
Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 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 full 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.
Rules for getting your Form I-20.
- You must be a "bona fide" student, accepted to a full-time program of study.
- 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.
- Carefully review the estimated annual cost of your program. Information for both Undergraduates and Graduate students can be found ¬HERE (attach PDF of cost estimate). 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%
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.
Individual Sponsor (Parent, Relative, Friend):
- Bank statement in the name of the sponsor. - A monthly statement of balances and deposits indicating the type of currency is necessary.
- Proof of income, such as pay stubs for last six months
- Documentation of investments
- Affidavit of annual cash support. This form may be photocopied for each sponsor. All questions must be answered. Each form must be notarized.
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.
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.
WARNING: A company's income is not the income of the owner of the business and will not be accepted as proof of income.
Sponsors of Free Room and Board:
- Affidavit (notarized) of Free Room and Board
- Proof of Income (any of the following):
- Employer's salary statement on letterhead stationery with most recent pay stub
- If self-employed, salary estimate from private accountant or bank
- Income tax returns or receipts with most recent pay stub
- Pay stubs for last six months
- Documentation of investments
- 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.
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.
WARNING: Personal funds may make demonstrating your ties to your home country more difficult when interviewing for a visa.
- Bank/Asset Statement in your name. A monthly statement of balances and deposits indicating the type of currency is necessary.
3. Funds from Wilkes University
These funds include scholarships. A Wilkes University Scholarship WILL NOT cover all expenses of the entire program. You may need to provide additional support to meet your minimum annual costs. If awarded, you will be notified of availability of these funds when you receive your acceptance letter to Wilkes.
- Copy of your Award Letter or Contract stating exactly what you will be receiving and for how long.
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.
All documents you give us must be:
- Less than two months old.
- In English (We cannot review documents that are not in English).
- 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.
- Sponsor Affidavits must be notarized, or signed by the sponsor in the presence of a notary public, the notary should also sign and put his/her official seal on the affidavit. There are notaries in all countries, though the names for them may be different. These are officials licensed by the national or regional government to take sworn statements for courts of law or to witness contracts and property deeds.There are not notaries at all U.S. embassies and consulates.
Now that you are planning to be a student...There are two things you should not do!
What NOT To Do
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.
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.
All information used with permission. IETS: International Education Training Services