FAQs About I-20 and DS-2090

Q - How do I get an I-20?

When IE receives your completed application, deposits, and financial certification documents, your application will be processed and an acceptance packet will be sent to you. It typically takes about two weeks for your I-20 documents to arrive.

Q - How do I apply if I am outside of the United States?

You first must apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. If you are accepted, the school should send you USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant). If you require a visa, then you should take the USCIS Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. Only bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school you plan on attending for visa processing at the U.S. consulate. You must also prove to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States. Please visit the State Department web site for more information on visa processing.

Q - Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?

Yes, as long as you are student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 visa. Your I-94 will also be labeled D/S.

Q - Can I renew my visa while outside the USA in another country other than my home country?

Yes, but the Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State web site at www.UnitedStatesVisas.gov.

Before you travel to a country other than yours to renew your visa, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you exit the United States and apply for a visa, you cannot return to the United States until the visa is issued. This could require a lengthy stay. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student.

Q - Can I go to Canada or Mexico and apply for a new visa?

In some cases, you can. Contact the individual U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada or Mexico. However, you cannot return to the United States until your visa is issued. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at www.UnitedStatesVisas.gov. You can also visit www.nvars.com, the site that provides appointments for consulates in Canada and Mexico.

Applying for a new visa is not the same as automatic visa revalidation. You cannot apply for a new visa and take advantage of automatic visa revalidation at the same time.

Q - How do I apply for DS 2019 (Exchange Visitors Visas)?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. The "J" visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. Participants in the "J" program must present a Form DS-2019

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.

The "J" exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of traveling, observing, consulting, conducting research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.

"J" exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants.

Note: We can only issue the DS-2019 for students/scholars who intend to enroll at TTU or facilitate research at TTU.

Q- What specific information do I need to provide to get my I-20?

You must submit your application form with proof of financial evidence. It can be:

  • Self-sponsorship
    Bank Statement- minimum balance for one year of school based on the information provided about the tuition and fees.
  • Sponsor in home country
    • Notarized sponsor letter
    • Sponsor's bank statement
      Bank statement must show the minimum balance for one year of study and living expenses.
  • Sponsor in the U.S.
    • Notarized Affidavit of Support (PDF) (For legal residents and U.S. citizens)
    • Notarized Sponsorship Letter
    • Recent bank statement or bank letter - minimum balance $22,000
    • Previous year's income tax return (optional)
    • Sponsor's Job Letter (Position, time employed and salary)

Q - Do I have to go to the embassy or consulate?

No, every country has different requirements. You must check with the American embassy in your country for the latest information. Currently all F-1 visa applicants in all countries must apply for an interview. You must call the U.S. Embassy in your country to make an appointment for this interview.

Q - How can I improve my chances to be approved for a visa?

  • You need proof or evidence showing that you will return to your home country after completing your studies.
  • You must have a minimum amount of money in your account to pay for school and your living expenses while you are studying.
  • It is helpful to submit proof of social, economic and familial connections to your country such as employment, continuing education, family, etc.
  • Arrange accommodations. Some officials may want to know where you plan to stay.

Q - How long does it take to get a visa?

The amount of time to obtain a visa varies and is affected by many factors. For more information on visa wait times provided by the U.S. government, visit the Visa Information for Temporary Visitors.

Q - How soon can I come to the United States with an F-1 visa?

You may arrive up to 30 days before the start of school as indicated on your I-20.

Q - Should I get health insurance?

Yes, it is recommended! You must talk to the International Students Advisor for more information about your student health insurance options.

Program Extension

Q - What do I do if my I-20 or DS-2029 form is going to expire?

An F-1 student is admitted to the U.S. for "duration of status," that is, to complete an educational program. However, if a student must remain in an educational program beyond the date originally estimated for completion of the program (as stated in Item 5 on the initial I-20 form issued to begin the program) the student must comply with DHS procedures for program extension. Application must be made to the Designated School Officer prior to the completion date (item 5) on your I-20 form.

An F-1 student is eligible for program extension if he or she (1) has continually maintained status and (2) delay in completion is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. The regulations add that "delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension." A student who fails to complete his or her program within the time prescribed in Item 5 of the I-20 and who cannot meet the eligibility criteria for program extension is considered to be out-of-status.

Any student who needs a program extension must apply to the Office of International Education within the 30-day period preceding the expiration date on his or her I-20 OR DS-2019. The student will be required to furnish new financial documentation to support the extension of studies.

NOTE TO STUDENT: You must submit BANK STATEMENTS or letters of sponsorship with supporting documents indicating proof of adequate financial resources to cover all academic and living expenses for the term indicated on the program extension authorization form. Unfortunately, funds in CDs, stocks, and/or bonds cannot be considered. Bank statements from checking and/or savings accounts are required. Bank letters alone are not sufficient.


Apply Now