The Form I-20 is known as the “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” It is needed for all F and M students. Once the student is accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, the Designated School Officer (DSO) from the school will send the student their new Form I-20. In addition to the main visa holders (F-1 and M-1) needing a Form I-20, all dependents traveling to the United States will need a Form I-20 as well. The student must indicate to the DSO that he or she has dependents travelling with them.
The Form I-20 is an important document because it is needed for multiple items upon coming to the United States. First and foremost, the Form I-20 is needed to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fees. Specifically, information from the form is required to pay the fee and it is imperative that the SEVIS fee be paid before entrance into the United States. Once the student receives the Form I-20, they will need it to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Other uses of the Form I-20 include changing status to F or M visa classification while in the United States or applying for benefits available to F and M students.
Sometimes students may need to request a new Form I -20 after receiving an initial Form I-20 upon program acceptance. A student may need a new Form I-20 if the physical copy of the form is destroyed or misplaced, the student’s SEVIS status changes, any substantive change to student information (changes to a student’s personal information, program of study, optional practical training, etc.), or for travel endorsement.