International Student Services

How to get I-20

What is an I-20 Form?

The I-20 is a government form through which Lehman College certifies to the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 student status. The I-20 form is issued when you have met all admission requirements, accepted to a full-time degree program, and shown that you have sufficient financial resources to study and live in the USA without working. Working illegally in the USA is considered a serious offense by Immigration.

Who needs an I-20 Form?

The I-20 form is needed to obtain an F-1 student visa in the home country. F-1 is a nonimmigrant status, which is given to persons whose temporary purpose for being in the USA is for full-time study. You must make an appointment with the nearest American Embassy/Consulate in your home country and apply for an F-1 student visa. The American Embassy/Consulate requires proof of financial support to cover at least one year of expenses. In addition, prospective students must provide documents showing sufficient evidence that equal amounts will be available for every year of your study in the United States.

Financial documents MUST be in English, less than six months old, and in U.S. dollars. Original documents are required and will not be returned. The American Embassy/Consulate will also require original financial documents when you apply for an F-1 student visa in your home country. Financial documents will play an important role in whether you are granted or denied a visa. If the U.S. Consul determines that the financial documents are insufficient, the visa will be denied. Sufficient evidence that equal amounts will be available for every year of your study in the United States must also be provided.

Financial documents that are acceptable are bank statements that state savings, proof of employment in the form of an annual salary on the companies’ letterhead, also notarized (certified) letters from family members that will provide room and board in the USA.

Business accounts, checking accounts, and the value of property are not acceptable.

How to get an I-20

  • Request an application packet from the Admission Office at
  • After you are accepted, you will be mailed or you can download the Affidavit of Financial Support. Financial documents must prove that you have the financial ability to support your studies in the United States. Please read carefully the financial documents that are acceptable. The I-20 will not be issued until your financial documents meet our requirements.
  • Complete the Application for Form I-20. A legible copy of the student’s passport must be attached.
  • Once your financial documents are received and meet the requirements, Lehman College will issue you an I-20.
  • When you receive your Lehman College 1-20, take it to the American Embassy/Consulate in your home country to apply for an F-1 student visa. For more detailed information, see section How to apply for an F-1 visa.
  • Be prepared to explain to the Embassy/Consulate why you want to study at Lehman.

Do not enter the USA on a Visitor or B type visa, if you plan to attend school.

If you are not certain of your plans to study in the United States, you can request the American Embassy for a B-2 visa with the words “Prospective Student” stated on it. Be sure to take documents with you that prove you have enough financial support for your studies in the U.S.A.

Be aware that you will not be able to get a student visa in the U.S.  All visas are issued outside the U.S. by an American Embassy or Consulate.

Under no circumstance should you enter the U.S. without a visa.

Last modified: Mar 27, 2012

  • Division of Student Affairs
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