I have my I-20, Now What?

Now that you have your I-20, you may be wondering what steps you should take next. On this page, you will find pre-arrival and post-arrival to-do lists to make sure you complete everything on time and are prepared for success!

Check out our webinar where we discussed paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, applying for a visa, arriving in the U.S., and what to do if you need to defer or cancel your admission. 

Understanding Your I-20

Your Certificate of Eligibility—Form I-20 for F-1 students— is an important document that you will use to apply for your visa, enter the U.S. remain in status during your studies. This section will familiarize you with how to read your initial or transfer-pending I-20.  

You must have one to apply for an F-1 visa, and must bring it with you when entering the U.S. 

Let your ISSS Advisor know if your I-20 has any errors or if something changes.  

Page One 

  • A: Your SEVIS ID number is the 9-digit number beginning with “N,” in the upper right-hand corner of the form. Use this number to pay your I-901 fee and apply for your visa. 
  • B: Only your surname, given name, and preferred name will appear on your I-20. Passport name is not a required field, so we do not fill it out.  
  • C: Admission number and Legacy Name are not required fields, so they will be left blank.  
  • D: The form issuance reason will say “Initial Attendance” for incoming students, and “Transfer Pending” for transfer students. Note: transfer students will receive an updated I-20 after completing check-in which have “continued attendance” as the form issuance reason.  
  • E: Do not worry if the name used for Major One does not exactly match the name of your program. Majors are listed under their “CIP Code” which is used to standardize similar programs given their own unique names and descriptions by different universities. Note: Major 2 will likely be left blank. Minors are not listed on I-20s.  
  • F: The earliest admission date is 30 days before the program start date and when you can begin to enter the U.S. 
  • G: The program start/end date is the earliest date determined by your academic program that you need to be present for a required activity. The end date is the estimated date of completion of your academic program.  
  • H: The estimated average costs for one academic year is calculated by ISSS and your academic program.  
  • I: This portion shows that you have sufficient funding for one academic year at the time of your visa interview. Even if you provide additional funding, the amounts listed will always equal your total estimated expenses. Please note that the funds on the I-20 are not binding, therefore updates are not necessary unless there is a significant change. Please note that funding from family members will be listed as “Family Funds” regardless of who the family member is.  
  • J: The remarks will typically be left blank except in special circumstances.  
  • K: The school attestation will contain a signature from the DSO that created your I-20. Please feel free to reach out to them with any questions that you may have about your I-20! 
  • L: This is the section where you will sign. Please only sign and date the top line if you are over 18 years of age. If you are under 18, then a parent or gaurdian will need to sign the second line. If you have dependents under the age of 18, please sign this section for them on their F-2 I-20s.  

Page Two:  

  • M: This section contains employment information for students who are on OPT and CPT. This does not apply to incoming students so it will be left blank.  
  • N: The travel endorsement is required for students that are already in the U.S. and wish to travel abroad. This is not necessary for incoming initial students until they enter the U.S. on their F-1 visas.  

 I20 sample

sample i20 page 2

I Have My I-20. Now What?

Have I20 contact school PDF

To download and print a PDF with hyperlinks, click here.

Getting Your Student Visa

Students can apply for their visa after paying the SEVIS I-901 Fee. With limited exceptions, all international students applying for admission to the United States need an entry visa.

Review the State Department's website and contact the nearest US embassy or consulate for details on how to obtain an F-1 visa. In Taiwan, please contact the American Institute. Application instructions may vary by location, so it is important to review the specific instructions provided by your embassy or consulate.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment as soon as you receive your documents from Emory, since there could be long wait times.

To schedule your appointment, first complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160.

  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • You will be asked to provide a point of contact in the U.S. and an address where you will be staying. If you don’t have a US-based contact, please use the name of the DSO who issued your I-20. If you don’t know your US address yet, you can use ISSS's office address (1784 North Decatur Road, Suite 130, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322).
  • You will be asked to submit a photo along with your application. Please refer to the official photo guidelines here.
  • For additional assistance on completing the form, please refer to their FAQ.

You may be eligible for an expedited interview appointment based on your I-20 start date.

  • The process to request an expedited nonimmigrant visa interview varies by location.
  • You should refer to the instructions on the website of the Embassy or Consulate Visa Section where you will interview, or on their online appointment scheduling site. 

I'm in the US. Now What?