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SEVIS, I-20, & Visa

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system for maintaining information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States. It tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. If accepted by an SEVP-certified school, foreign students may be admitted to the United States with the appropriate F, J, or M nonimmigrant status.

What is the Form I-20?

After you have been admitted and decide to attend Augsburg, we will issue the SEVIS Certificate of Eligibility Form I-20 once we receive all required documents. The Form I-20 is a legal document that lists your program start date, 30 days before which you are allowed to enter the United States. F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. Your type of student visa must match the type of Form I-20 you have (e.g., F-1 or M-1).

What are the steps to apply for a student visa? 

(1) Obtain your Form I-20 from Augsburg

We will issue your Form I-20 once we receive your completed Certificate of Finances, Proof of funding as demonstrated by supporting financial documents (such as bank statements – current within three months; Government Support Letter, etc), and Copy of the first page your passport.

Students transferring from a U.S. institution: You will need to have your SEVIS record transferred from your current institution to Augsburg. The SEVIS Transfer form must be completed by you and your Designated School Official. You will usually need to present your Augsburg letter of admissions to the DSO when submitting your transfer request.

Upon receipt of your Form I-20, please review document for accuracy. If any corrections are needed please email us immediately.

(2) Pay the SEVIS Fee

Before you pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee, you must receive the Form I-20 from Augsburg. You will need information from the Form I-20 to pay the fee. The I-901 SEVIS Fee is mandatory and must be paid before you enter the United States.

(3) Apply for your visa

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

  • Complete the Online Visa Application, Form DS-160 and print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Schedule an Interview: You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

If you encounter any problems obtaining your visa, contact a staff member from International Student & Scholar Services immediately.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens do not need visas to study or participate in an exchange program in the U.S. However, Canadian students do need to obtain the Form I-20 (or DS-2019) Certificate of Eligibility from Augsburg. Upon receipt of the I-20 (or DS-2019), the student will be registered with SEVIS, the student tracking system, will be assigned a SEVIS number, and will be required to pay a registration fee. When crossing the border to begin their study or exchange program in the United States, the student will need to provide the Officer at the port of entry:

  1. A Canadian passport;
  2. The original I-20 (or DS-2019) certificate;
  3. Proof that the SEVIS fee has been paid;
  4. Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the United States; and
  5. Proof of ties to Canada.

Change of Status

Students who have been admitted to a program of study at Augsburg and who are already present in the United States in another immigration status may change status to F-1. The Form I-20 for new students will be issued upon receipt of all required documents. Please note that the issuance of the I-20 does not automatically change the status of the individual to F-1. Once an I-20 form has been issued, students may initiate a change of status to F-1 by either departing the U.S. and applying for an F-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad or by filing an application to change immigration status to F-1 within the U.S.

Travel and Re-Entry with an F-1 Visa

Students who are outside the U.S. or who are present in the U.S. in another immigration status and will travel outside the U.S. prior to beginning an educational program may apply for an F-1 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad to enter the U.S. in F-1 status. However, it is not necessary for an individual who changes status to F-1 within the U.S. to obtain a new visa unless the individual departs the United States and then wishes to return in F-1 status.

Changing status to F-1 within the United States

Students who are present in the U.S. in another immigration status may normally apply within the U.S. to change immigration status to F-1 without departing the country. Students who are eligible and who wish to apply to change status within the U.S. must file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service prior to the expiration of their present immigration status. Processing times may vary, but applications to change status may take several months.

Applicants should ensure that they are able to maintain status during an extended processing time. Applicants changing status to F-1 from an immigration status that prohibits enrollment in a course of study must delay enrollment at Augsburg until the change of status to F-1 is approved.

To change status to F-1 inside the U.S., the student must file an application with the USCIS service center that has jurisdiction over the student’s U.S. residence. It is strongly recommended that applicants for a change of status consult with the International Student Advisor.