Obtaining a Student Visa

Start by submitting our application.

In order to receive an I-20 or DS-2019, you must complete and submit the online I-20 application. Read all instructions within the application very carefully. Improperly submitted applications and documents will delay the issuance of your I-20.

The university will not issue I-20s or DS-2019s after December 20 for the spring term, May 20 for the summer term, or August 1 for the fall term. We will begin issuing I-20s for fall first-year and transfer students on March 1.

You will need to upload the following documents with your I-20 application. Documents mailed to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions will not be uploaded or added to your I-20 application.

1. Financial Verification

Federal regulations require that you submit complete and accurate information regarding your sources of financial support. We don’t award need-based financial aid to international students. Confirmation of sufficient funds and sources of support must be demonstrated through a bank letter or statement indicating a minimum of $65,600 available for at least one year of study. The bank letter or statement must be dated within one year prior to the date classes begin, and the account holder name must match the name of your sponsor as entered in the I-20 application. The bank letter or statement must also be written in English or accompanied by a certified English translation.

Examples of Acceptable Documents

  • Bank letters signed by a bank official
  • Bank statements issued directly by a bank
  • Loan or award letters stamped or certified by a lending institution

Examples of Unacceptable Documents

  • Internet bank statements
  • Bank documents without the account holder’s name in English
  • Life insurance policies
  • Pension statements
  • Beneficiary trust statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Documents that reflect salary amount, estate or property value, stock or securities value, or tax liability

U.S. embassy or consular officials frequently require a review of financial support during your visa interview. Therefore, we recommend that you make and maintain copies of all documents submitted for your personal use. We do not return or provide you with copies of these documents.

2. Passport Copy

Submit a valid copy of your passport. Do not submit a copy of your sponsor's passport.

Access your I-20.

Once your I-20 has been issued, it will be available for download through your Admitted Checklist in myIllini. Review our pre-arrival information on transitioning to campus.

How you obtain your student visa depends on your situation.

If you are currently living outside the U.S.: Present the I-20 or DS-2019 to the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country to obtain the F-1 student visa or J-1 exchange visitor visa. If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need a visa to study in the U.S.; however, you must show the I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S.

Entry to the U.S. is allowed up to 30 calendar days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 document.

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student transferring from another college or high school within the U.S.: Inform the international student advisor at your current school or most recent school of full-time attendance that you want to transfer your record to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Illinois. The international student advisor must release or transfer out your record in SEVIS before the start of class, which then permits us to create a transfer-in I-20 or DS-2019. We don't complete transfer-in forms. Our SEVIS school codes are CHI214F01070000 for F-1 visa holders and P-1-00209 for J-1 visa holders.

Notify us via email or by calling +1 217-333-0302 before applying to the Intensive English Institute.

If you are currently living in the U.S. on a dependent visa allowing full-time study (such as H-4 or E-2): You will not need the I-20 form. However, if you plan to change your status to F-1, you will need an I-20. Notify us if you will seek the F-1 visa outside the U.S. or seek to change status while in the U.S. You should also discuss your visa status with an advisor from the International Student and Scholar Services office via email or by calling +1 217-333-1303.

If you are an applicant for permanent residency and have submitted form I-485: You will not need the form I-20. Present your permanent resident application materials, especially form I-485, when you report to the office of International Student and Scholar Services.

If you are currently in the U.S. on B-1 or B-2 visitor status: U.S. government regulations will not allow you to enroll in a program of study. Your status must be changed to F-1 or J-1 outside the U.S. prior to enrolling. If you are unsure of how to change your status, contact us for information.