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I-20 & Visa

student looking at a laptop

The I-20 is an important immigration document that you must show to the American Consulate or Embassy in your home country so you can obtain an F-1 student visa before coming to the United States.

The UIC Office of International Services (OIS) issues the I-20 to students accepted for full-time study in our Intensive English Program.

On this page:

How to Qualify for an I-20 Heading link

1. Apply to our Intensive English Program.

  • Open our online application form.
  • Under Program, select “Intensive English Program.”
  • Apply for full-time study.
  • If you are traveling from overseas, complete your application at least 6 weeks before the start of the session.
  • If possible, we recommend that you apply even earlier to accommodate local Embassy visa appointment and processing wait times.
  • View recommended arrival dates and semester start dates.

2. Include the following in your application:

(If you don’t have all of these now, you can start your application and upload them to the application later.)

1. Completed Declaration and Certification of Finances (DCF)

  • Complete the DCF in full. It will be rejected if you leave anything out. Make sure you include your signature and the names and signatures of your financial sponsors (if any).
  • The DCF is a required document and cannot be substituted by other affidavits of support.

2. Proof of Financial Support

3. Copy of passport

  • Photocopy your passport’s biographical page showing your name and personal information

How to Show Proof of Financial Support Heading link

Required Funding Amount

You must submit proof that you have funds equal to the Tutorium Total Estimated Expenses for one semester, two semesters, or eight weeks.

  • The purpose is to show the government that you have enough money to support yourself in the U.S.
  • You do not need to spend all the money that you show. You just need to have it available to you.

Acceptable Sources of Funding

This list of financial documents from OIS will tell you exactly what you can submit to show your funding source.

Bank Letter Requirements

For most students, their proof of financial support is an official letter from their bank (NOT a bank statement).

The bank letter must be signed or stamped by a bank official. It must be in English, or include a certified English translation.

Estimated Expenses Based on Length of I-20 Heading link

Length of I-20IEP TuitionCost of LivingTextbooks Total $
1 semester$6,500$7,888$175$14,563
More than 1 semester$13,000$15,777$350$29,127
8 Weeks (half of a semester)
(Only available the first Fall or Spring semester of study)
$3,900$3,944$175$8,019

Tips for Choosing the Length of Your I-20 Heading link

1.) Open and review I-20 Issuance: Beginning and End Semesters.

This document lists:

  • Different lengths of I-20s that you can receive
  • Required financial amounts for each I-20 length
  • Start and end dates for each I-20 length

2.) Think about the following:

  • Our Intensive English Program has five levels. Each level lasts for one semester. (Fall and Spring semesters are 16 weeks. Summer semester is 12 weeks.)
  • Your beginning level is based on a placement test, which you are given when you arrive in Chicago.
  • Your language goals and your beginning level determine how many semesters you may need to attend.
    • For example, a student who tests at our level 2 and wants to reach level 5 and attend university in the U.S., should plan on attending (and passing) at least 4 semesters.
  • If a student passes each level successfully, completing the full Intensive English Program takes a maximum of 5 semesters.
  • Students may attend half a semester, which is 8 weeks. This is only available for the first semester you arrive.
  • After you begin to study, you can continue studying and update your I-20 by providing new financial documents.

Note: If you are considering a Temporary Driver’s License, the length of  your I-20 is a factor. Read more on the OIS website.

To request an I-20 for a dependent:

  • You must show that you have funding to support your dependents in addition to your program of study.
  • Dependents are defined as your spouse or unmarried children under 21.

Dependent Costs to Add to Estimated Expenses Heading link

Length of I-20First DependentEach additional dependent
1 semester$3,245$2,318
More than 1 semester$6,489$4,635
8 Weeks (half of a semester)
(Only available the first Fall or Spring semester of study)
$1,623$1,159

How Long it Takes to Receive an I-20 Heading link

If your application is correct and complete, and your application fee paid, the total process is 10 business days. (Note: applications are not processed on weekends or holidays.)

The process includes 3 steps:

Step 1: Submit your application and pay the application fee.

You will immediately receive an email confirming that your application has been received with instructions on how to login and view your application status.

Step 2: Receive your Acceptance Letter from the Tutorium. (5 business days)

The Tutorium will review your application and confirm that it was correctly completed and all documents have been submitted. You must answer all emails from tutorium@uic.edu.

After this step is complete (usually 5 business days), the Tutorium will email your Acceptance Letter to you.

This letter will not contain your I-20. You must complete Step 3 to receive your I-20.

Step 3: Receive your I-20 from UIC OIS. (5 business days)

After the Tutorium sends your acceptance letter, OIS will review the documents required for your I-20. Answer all emails sent from OIS (ois-tie@uic.edu) and reply with any requested documents.

5 business days after OIS receives and approves all of your documents, OIS will email a digital copy of your I-20 to you.

  • Problems with any of the documents that you include in your application will increase this process time.

Using Your I-20 to Get a Student Visa Heading link

Visit this OIS webpage for instructions on:

  • Finding the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you
  • Paying the SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Completing Form DS-160
  • Additional tips and requirements for getting your student visa