I-20 and F-1 Student Visa Information

Congratulations on your acceptance! Below is information on how to obtain your I-20 and F-1 student visa, as well as frequently asked questions.  For any further questions pertaining to the I-20 application process, please email us

How to request an I-20

    To prepare, you will need:

    • An electronic copy of the biographic page of your passport.
    • Documentation for any F-2 dependents who will be traveling with you:
      • An electronic copy of each dependent's passport biographic page.
      • Proof of relationship to the dependent (birth certificate for child; marriage certification; certified translation if needed).
    • Proof of funding for one academic year.
    • Sponsor affidavit if using non-personal funds (download under Financial Details).
    • Additional financial documentation if required.
    • For students transferring their I-20 to CMU, additional information is required on the Location Information tab at the top of the portal.

    In addition to these items, you will also be required to enter your personal information.

    Log in to the portal

    You may take a clear photo or scan of the biographic page of your passport and upload it to the international student portal. The bio page is the page that shows your picture and personal details. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S. If it is not valid, the I-20 will not be processed.

    In compliance with the Department of Homeland Security and SEVIS regulations, all international applicants on the F-1 student visa must provide evidence of sufficient funds available for their studies in the U.S. For this purpose, a cover letter must be completed and submitted along with bank statements dated within the past 12 months.

    Please refer to the Cost of Attendance – International Students to determine the amount of funds required for your specific program. Again, all costs are estimates, the final tuition bill will reflect the accurate cost of attendance.

    Students with dependents (e.g., spouse, child) who will be joining them in the U.S. during their time on an F-1 visa will need to provide proof of the following additional funds.

    Additional financial support needed for dependents:

    • Spouse – $5,000
    • Each child – $2,500

    Cost of Attendance

    The cover letter is separate from the financial documentation that you will need to provide. Examples of financial documents valid for I-20 processing are listed below:

    Bank statements: that show liquid funds (funds that can be immediately accessed and used). These can be one statement covering the entire amount displayed on the financial guarantee form for one year of attendance at the university, or a collection of bank statements from the people listed on the financial guarantee as sponsors. Note that the summary of available balances on these statements will still need to total the amount listed on the cover letter for one year of attendance at the university. These statements need to be dated within the last 12 months. Please note that an Affidavit of Support cannot be used in lieu of a bank statement.

    If you are using funding from a financial account that you do not own, the following documentation is needed:

    • A sponsor affidavit completed and signed by your sponsor(s). If you are submitting bank statements from multiple sponsors, a completed sponsor affidavit is needed from each sponsor.
    • If sponsored funding originates from a business, corporate, or other non-personal account, a bank letter is also required specifying the name(s) of the signatory/signatories on the account. If there are multiple signatories, the letter must also specify if each person can sign alone or if all signatories must sign collectively. This letter must be provided in addition to a completed sponsor affidavit. If all signatories must sign collectively, a sponsor affidavit is needed from all signatories.

    TA/GA (CMU teaching assistantship/graduate assistantship) offer letters: If the scholarship and/or TA/GA offers do not cover the full costs for your program, please make sure that additional funding support documentation is also submitted.

    Request Initial SEVIS Form I-20

    Once you have verified that all items above are complete, please click the Complete button to finalize your I-20 request.

    If anything is found to be incomplete or lacking funds, you will receive an email and your request will be returned for updated documentation. You will be contacted within 2 to 3 business days if your I-20 is ready in the international student portal.

    Request Transfer SEVIS Form I-20

    Print the CMU F-1 Transfer Form and submit it to your current school informing your intent to enroll at CMU. Once the DSO at your transfer out institution has signed the SEVIS Transfer request form, upload the document through the International Student Portal.

    Once the SEVIS Transfer Form, Cover Letter, Financial Documents and copy of passport are received and verified to be accurate, we will email you the I-20 once the SEVIS release date indicated on the SEVIS Transfer Form has arrived. We are unable to transfer your SEVIS record and issue an I-20 until the date indicated on the form.

    If you are going to travel outside the U.S. before your studies at CMU, you will need to reenter the U.S. with our I-20 and present it at the U.S. Port of Entry.

    If you have any questions, please contact our office:
    Office of International Affairs and Graduate Recruitment
    Ronan 330
    Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
    Email: i20@cmich.edu
    Phone: +1-989-774-1619

    Email for assistance

    It is important to understand your SEVIS document; each page contains important information that you must read. You must ensure that all information is correct (spelling, dates, etc.). If there are any mistakes, please contact our I-20 team as soon as possible to have the information corrected. You will need the SEVIS Form I-20, your admission letter, the financial documents, and your passport in order to obtain your student visa at the U.S. consulate nearest you.

    Understanding the SEVIS Form I-20
    The SEVIS Form I-20 is a three-page government document used for students to obtain an F-1 visa.

    • Page 1 contains program and biographical information.
      • Your SEVIS Identification Number is on the top right side of the form. You will need this number for your visa application and to pay the SEVIS fee.
      • F-1 students will be permitted to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to their report date, which is Earliest Admission Date on their SEVIS Form I-20. Please note that if you enter the U.S. after the report date, you may encounter difficulty with immigration officials at the Port of Entry. By signing the Student Certification on the SEVIS Form I-20, you are acknowledging that you have read and understand the terms and conditions of F-1 status.
    • Page 2 contains spaces for future travel authorization. You will not need a signature on this page when you travel to the U.S. using your SEVIS Form I-20 for the first time.
    • Page 3 contains instructions for the school and student. It is important that you read Page 2 of your SEVIS Form I-20, which has important immigration information for maintaining your F-1 status while pursuing your studies at CMU.

    Note: Dependents accompanying the F-1 student in F-2 status must have their own SEVIS Form I-20 issued in the name of the dependent.

    U.S. Consulate

    Upon receipt of SEVIS Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, you will have the information needed to pay the SEVIS Form I-901 fee. You must pay the SEVIS fee and have a receipt prior to applying for a student visa.

    The SEVIS Form I-901 fee is mandated by the U.S. Congress to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track of students and exchange visitors, and ensures that they maintain their status while in the U.S.

    SEVIS Form I-901

    F-1 student visa application process

      As a visa applicant, you must submit a completed DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application for all nonimmigrant visa categories. Read complete details about student visas.

      Note: After you have completed the DS-160, you will need to print and keep the DS-160 barcode page.

      To schedule your interview, locate your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Each consulate sets its own timeline for accepting and processing student visa applications.

      If the consulate says apply “at least” 60 days before your program departure, this means no fewer than 60 days. To avoid problems, submit your visa application at the earliest date the consulate will accept it.

      Please read information about nonimmigrant visa application fees. Applicants must pay these fees as directed prior to their visa interview, and they must bring the receipt to their interview.

      If the visa is issued, please note that a Visa Issuance Reciprocity Fee may be applicable based on your country of citizenship. Please refer to the Visa Reciprocity Table to see if this fee applies to you.

      Start gathering the required documents for your student visa application the moment you apply to your program. Read through all information provided online by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you will be visiting.

      Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

    • Passport. Must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.
    • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
    • Application fee payment receipt.if you are required to pay before your interview.
    • Photo. You will upload while completing the online form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring a 2x2 inch photograph of yourself.
    • SEVIS Form I-20 issued by CMU.

      You must sign Form I-20.Additional documentation may be required:
      A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, may request additional documents. You should be prepared to provide evidence such as:

      • A receipt of your SEVIS Form I-901 fee.
      • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates from schools you attended.
      • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school.
      • Your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study.
      • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs, including financial evidence showing you, your parents or sponsor have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during your study.

      For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

      Frequently asked questions

      1. What is F-1 student visa? The F-1 visa is the most common student visa and is issued to full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program at a U.S. institution. Any student who is funded either by personal or outside funds, or a combination of the two, is eligible for F-1 status. If you are a student applying for an F-1 visa, you must request the SEVIS Form I-20 from the office of international affairs once admitted.
      2. How do I get a student visa? To get a student visa, you must first apply and be admitted to CMU. Once admitted, you must apply for an I-20 through CMU by uploading the required documentation. Once you receive your SEVIS number from the I-20 created by CMU, you’ll apply for your student visa through your country’s embassy. The visa process includes some paperwork and an in-person interview with an immigration officer at your local embassy. The embassy then creates the student visa with your passport and will indicate the dates you can arrive in the U.S. for your studies.
      3. What is SEVIS? SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You must complete a SEVIS form I-20 to get an F-1 student visa or a SEVIS form DS-2019 to get a J-1 student visa.
      4. Can I bring my dependent(s)? Yes, they will need to apply for an F-2 visa. The F-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows dependent spouses and children of F-1 student visa holders to enter the U.S. and enroll in an educational institution. As a student with F-2 visa status, you can also attend CMU, but only as a part-time student.
      5. Can I get a job while in the U.S. as a student? Yes, you may work as a student no more than 20 hours per week, according to USCIS regulations. If you will need to work, either on or off-campus, be sure to contact the International Student and Scholar Services for authorization.
      6. I’m admitted to the undergraduate program. Why is the program on my I-20 liberal arts and sciences/liberal studies? All undergraduate students at CMU will have the following course code on their I-20: "Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 24.0101," regardless of the program they have applied for on their application. The reason for this is that you will be declaring your major once you have arrived at campus. Therefore, the course mentioned on the I-20 is correct. The remarks section outlines this as well so that way when you have your Visa appointment the consular official will know.
      7. What if my visa application is denied? We recommend you connect with Education USA. Education USA is a U.S. government organization that provides students with assistance related to studying in the U.S. They have advising centers located all around the world. Please connect with them and see if they have any advice or suggestions for you in your situation. If they recommend you try the interview again, please email us back requesting we defer your admission to a later semester. We’ll direct you to defer your admission and reissue a new I-20 for a later semester so that you can try the visa process again.
      8. How can I transfer to CMU from another US institution? If you are interested in transferring to CMU from another university, you will need to first apply to CMU using the application portal. Once you have been admitted, you may request your SEVIS record to be transferred to CMU (this should be done once you have finished any classes that you are currently enrolled in at your current institution). You will request this through the office that has issued your current I-20 using this form. When we receive the transfer record, we will issue you a new I-20 through CMU (same SEVIS ID) and you would then start classes at CMU using that I-20.