I-20 Form and Student Visa Information
What is the purpose of a Student Visa?
For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on obtaining a visa, please visit the U.S. Department of State website. If you are coming to the U.S. primarily to study and if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, you will need a student visa, also known as an F-1 visa. Below is a brief overview of the steps required to apply for a student visa with more detail provided below in the FAQ’s.
Steps to obtaining a Student Visa
Follow the steps below to obtain an I-20 Form from LCI:
• Pay the SEVIS fee (currently $200) online at www.fmjfee.com
• Schedule a visa interview at the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country
• If approved, you will receive your Student Visa
What is an I-20 Form and why do I need one?
The first and most important step in obtaining a student visa is to receive the I-20 Form. The I-20 is an official U.S. Government form that is a visa-qualifying document which is issued by a U.S. Educational Institution. Every foreign student who plans to study in America must receive this form through the learning institution that he/she plans to attend in order to receive an F-1 visa (student visa). LCI will provide this document to you. Furthermore, F-1 students must maintain a valid I-20 Form by studying full time to reside legally in the U.S. after they start their educational program.
Does everyone need an I-20 Form?
Everyone that plans to study in the U.S. must first obtain an I-20. You cannot obtain a student visa without this form.
How do I get an I-20?
LCI will provide you with an I-20 upon receipt of:
• LCI registration form
• A copy of your passport
• A copy of your bank statement (this data serves as proof that you can provide funding to study in the U.S.)
• Payment of $340 (payment may be made to LCI via wire transfer or PayPal)
How long does it take to receive an I-20 Form?
Most schools take approximately 2 weeks to provide you with an I-20 Form, but LCI will provide you with your I-20 Form in just 24 – 48 hours after receiving your application and payment.
Why does LCI request copies of my bank statement?
The U.S. government requires that you provide financial proof that you can cover the costs of studying in the U.S.
Can I provide more than one bank statement?
Yes, you can demonstrate funds to the U.S. government by providing statements from multiple accounts if you like.
I’d like to bring family members with me when I travel to the U.S. Is that allowed?
Yes. You need to provide this information to LCI, so that we can state this data on your I-20 Form. Please provide the full names (as stated on passports), date of birth and relationship to you for all family members who plan to accompany you.
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents. SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State (DOS). LCI is responsible for entering your information for the I-20 student visa form into SEVIS. You are responsible for paying an SEVIS I-901 fee for each program of study.
Who pays the SEVIS fee?
• Prospective students with "initial attendance" I-20s who are applying for an "initial" F-1 visa from outside the US.
• Prospective students with "initial attendance" I-20s who are applying for a change to F-1 status from another visa category.
• Current F-1 students in the US filing for reinstatement after being out of status more than 5 months.
When do I pay the SEVIS fee?
The fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to applying for your visa, or applying for admission at a US port-of-entry for those exempt from the visa requirement (Canadian citizens). The fee must be paid prior to submission of a change of status petition or reinstatement application. The fee is currently $200.
What about my F-2 dependents?
F-2 dependents do not have to pay the fee.
How do I pay the fee?
The fee can be paid online at www.fmjfee.com
or by mail. It can be paid by you or by a third party, inside or outside the US.
To Pay Online (Recommended)
1. Find the Form I-901 at www.fmjfee.com
. 2. Complete the form online and give the necessary credit or debit card information.
3. *Be sure to type your name exactly as it appears on your I-20 form.
4. Print a copy of the online receipt.
5. Make copies of your receipt, and keep it with your other important immigration documents.
To Pay By Mail
Can I pay the SEVIS fee at a university, consulate or port of entry?
No. The SEVIS fee can only be processed by the Department of Homeland online at www.fjmfee.com
web site or by mail.
What is an F-1 Visa?
An F-1 visa is an official U.S. government issued document which allows a foreign citizen to travel to the United States to study full time for a temporary amount of time.
Does LCI issue F-1 Visas
No, all visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.
What documents must I provide to receive an F-1 Visa
How much time does it take to receive an F-1 Visa?
The amount of time it takes varies from country to country. Please see the U.S. Department of State website on visa wait times
or you may contact the U.S. embassy or consular in your home country for more precise information.
Why do I schedule a Visa Interview?
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section in your country is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate.
What should I keep in mind as I’m scheduling my Visa Interview?
The waiting time for a visa interview appointment for applicants can vary from days to months, so contacting your embassy or consulate to schedule the interview early is strongly encouraged. Please see our Tips for the Visa Interview section below.
Tips for the Visa Interview
• LCI recommends that you take some time to prepare for your visa interview.
• Give some thought as to how you will answer some of the questions regarding why you want to study in the U.S., and how studying in the U.S. will prepare you for future endeavors in your home country
• Go to the interview well dressed- it’s important how you present yourself
• Be on time to the interview
• Smile and be friendly
• If you’re employed, bring a letter from your employer
• Provide copies of transcripts for previous institutions attended
• If you or your family maintain any properties in your home country, please bring documentation
I want to transfer my I-20 Form to your school. What do I need to do?
Please follow the steps below:
• You need to first contact LCI to let us know that you’d like to transfer
• You need to inform your current school that you plan to transfer.
• You need to complete an LCI registration form and a transfer form (available by contacting our office), and provide advanced payment for your first academic term.
• LCI will then send a transfer form to your current school and subsequently issue you an I-20.
What happens if I become out of status as a student?
LCI is authorized to apply for reinstatement for students who are out of status. If you become out of status, contact LCI and we will review your request. We handle each request on a case by case basis.