Newly Admitted International Students: I-20 FAQs

Congratulations on your admission to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign! You may be wondering about the next steps in your journey. Today, I am covering the Form I-20 by answering some frequently asked questions.


What is an I-20 and who needs it?

Admitted students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. seeking F-1 (Student) Visa status must obtain a UIUC Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant F-1 Student Status) and apply for an F-1 Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to the U.S. to begin their degree program.


When do I start with the I-20 process?

You will start as soon as you accept your admission offer. Remember that the deadline for accepting your offer is May 1.  Afterwards, you must complete and submit the online I-20 application to begin the process.


What are the estimated expenses provided on the Form I-20?

New F-1 students are required to show an estimate of acceptable funds to cover expenses for the length of one year of their program. For Fall 2018, the minimum estimated funds should be $62,800.


What is considered acceptable financial verification?

Acceptable financial verification can be a bank letter or statement that is issued and signed by a bank official in English or, if not in English, accompanied by an official English translation. For more information on acceptable financial documents, click here.


Who issues my I-20?

A Designated School Official (DSO) within the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at UIUC will issue your I-20.


When will you start issuing I-20s?

We will begin issuing I-20s for freshmen and transfer students who are starting their studies in the fall on March 1.


What do the dates on my I-20 mean?

Program Start Date: indicates the Wednesday prior to the “start of classes.”

Program End Date: indicates the last day when you complete your program of study.


What is a SEVIS I-90 fee?

SEVIS is a U.S. government system that manages data and application processes for F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrants in the United States. If you are beginning a new program in the U.S., you are required to pay a one-time fee before you could obtain an F-1 visa. Each Form I-20 has a SEVIS ID number. All SEVIS ID numbers start with the letter N, and the number is located on the top right corner of the I-20.


If you are interested in what an I-20 looks like, click here for a sample.

That’s all for now! Keep an eye out for a post about international student orientation in the coming weeks. I look forward to answering your questions!



Assistant Director, Undergraduate Admissions
I graduated from the University of Illinois (LAS ’02) and had the honor to play football for the Orange and Blue. I received my masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Illinois Springfield.