Frequently Asked Questions &
Student Resources

Student Resources

I-20, Visa, & Student Status

What is the difference between a Form I-20, a visa and student's status?

A student's Form I-20 is a document issued to accepted students by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools that indicates a student's primary purpose for coming to the United States.

A student visa is a travel document you receive from a U.S. consulate or embassy before entering the United States. A student's status is what a person must maintain after they are granted entrance into the United States.

What is SEVP certification and do schools need it?

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification authorizes schools to issue Forms I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, " to prospective international students after admitting them for a course of study.

If certified, the school will gain access to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and may begin issuing Forms I-20. To maintain certification, the school must comply with SEVP policies as well as record keeping and reporting requirements stipulated in 8 CFR 214.3.

Schools only need SEVP certification if they wish to enroll F and M students, and SEVP is the only government entity that can certify a school to issue Forms I-20.

How does an international student know if a school is SEVP certified?

Use the School Search in Tools section of Study in the States to find Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools and programs eligible to enroll F-1 and M-1 students.

Use the tool to search by school name, location, education or visa type.

School Accreditation Significance
F-1 Visa Schools
Maintaining F-1 Status
F-1 Visa Fee
Lost/Stolen Visa, Passport, or I-94
Study in the States Link
Student Banking
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