Services for International Students and Scholars

I-20 Application Process

Form I-20 is a visa eligibility document issued by Northeastern University to certify that an international student has
met admission requirements for a full-time program of study, and has demonstrated sufficient financial support for
his/her studies in the U.S. This visa eligibility document is needed to apply for an international student visa at a U.S.
embassy or consulate to obtain F-1 status within the U.S.

Who is an initial student?

New international students coming from outside the U.S. that are seeking F-1 visa sponsorship.

Form I-20

Form I-20 is a visa eligibility document issued by Northeastern University to certify that an eligible international student has met admission requirements for a full-time program of study, and has demonstrated sufficient financial support for his/her studies in the U.S. This visa eligibility document is needed to apply for a non-immigrant student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to obtain F-1 status within the U.S.

Applying for the Initial I-20

You can submit an I-20 request only after you have been admitted to a program at Northeastern University. You will also need to be sure to confirm other requirements needed by the admissions office before your I-20 request submission. At that time, you will then be able to submit an electronic I-20 request through myOGS. OGS encourages you to submit your initial I-20 request as soon as possible to provide ample time for the issuance of the I-20 and for your F-1 visa application process prior to your enrollment.

How to prepare for, access and submit the online Initial I-20 Request:

Step 1: Required documents (must be in digital format of PDF or JPEG):

  • Color copy of the identity page of your passport
  • Financial documents meeting your program’s expenses:
    • To access the estimated expenses for the NU college of your program, please see “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms and Guides page
  • Currency conversion:
    • If you are submitting financial documents that are not in U.S. Dollars, please provide a currency conversion and upload it to the e-form. Here is a currency conversion calculator – https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
  • Sponsor letter or Affidavit of Support (only required when your sponsor is a non-blood relative)

Step 2: Accessing the I-20 request e-form

  • Please see “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms & Guides page for the e-form for the NU college of your program.
  • You will be prompted to enter your myNEU username and password login. The myOGSI-20 request e-form is designed to respond to your individual situation and will guide you through the request process. If you have any questions, please contact your specific NU college’s admissions office or the OGS.

Guidelines for Demonstrating Financial Support

When requesting an I-20 for your Northeastern program of study, please show all sources of financial support and ensure that the sum equals or exceeds the program’s estimated expenses for yourself and any dependents. All financial documentation must be in English (or certified English translations must be included) and must be issued within 9 months of your program start date.

To see the estimated expenses for the NU college you have been admitted to, please go to “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms & Guides page.

 

Financial sources must be readily available liquid assets, such as:

  • Checking or Savings Accounts
  • Money Market Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit, Term Deposits and Fixed Deposits (with maturity dates no later than the program start date)
  • Current Accounts
  • University Scholarships
  • Financial guarantee letters
  • Educational Loans (a loan application is not sufficient)
  • Benevolent Accounts

The following are examples of sources that are NOT acceptable:

  • Investment Portfolios
  • Retirement Plans
  • Public Provident Funds
  • Available Lines of Credit
  • Deeds to Real Estate
  • Material Items (examples: livestock, land, jewelry, fur)
  • Leases with Rental Income
  • Salary Agreements or Paystubs
  • Income Tax Forms

Dependents

A dependent is a spouse or children (unmarried under the age of 21).  If you would like to have dependents to accompany you during your study in the U.S., you will need to indicate this when completing your I-20 request e-form. In addition, you will need to provide a color copy of the identity page of the passport for your dependent(s).

You will also need to show additional funding on your financial documents for your dependents. For your spouse: add $10,000 to the estimated expenses for your program of study. For your child/children: add $6,000 per person to the estimated expenses for your program of study.

 

Financial sources must be readily available liquid assets, such as:

  • Checking or Savings Accounts
  • Money Market Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit, Term Deposits and Fixed Deposits (with maturity dates no later than the program start date)
  • Current Accounts
  • University Scholarships
  • Financial guarantee letters
  • Educational Loans (a loan application is not sufficient)
  • Benevolent Accounts

The following are examples of sources that are NOT acceptable:

  • Investment Portfolios
  • Retirement Plans
  • Public Provident Funds
  • Available Lines of Credit
  • Deeds to Real Estate
  • Material Items (examples: livestock, land, jewelry, fur)
  • Leases with Rental Income
  • Salary Agreements or Paystubs
  • Income Tax Forms

Students currently in F-1 visa status who have been admitted to a full-time program at Northeastern University and are currently enrolled at another U.S. institution or in a period of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) at that institution. These students are seeking to transfer their F-1 record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) from their current U.S. institution to Northeastern University.

Transferring your SEVIS Record

It is important that you work with the Designated School Official (DSO) at your current school’s international student office on the specific process and required documentation needed to complete your transfer-out request.  As your current school holds your SEVIS record, you must first start the transfer process there.

After completion of the transfer-out process, your current institution’s DSO will set a transfer release date for your SEVIS record. This is the date from which the DSO at your transfer-out school deactivates your SEVIS record from that school and then transfers your SEVIS record to Northeastern University, the transfer-in school. Please be sure to confirm with your DSO at your current school that your SEVIS record has been transferred to the correct campus that you have been admitted to at Northeastern. Campus locations include Boston, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Charlotte.

Your Form I-20 from Northeastern cannot be issued until you complete the required steps of requesting a transfer I-20 with the Office of Global Services. In addition, your I-20 cannot be issued until your SEVIS record has been released by your transfer-out school to Northeastern.

Applying for the Transfer I-20

You can submit a transfer I-20 request only after you have been officially admitted to a full-time program of study. You will also need to be sure to confirm other requirements needed by the admissions office before your I-20 request submission. At that time, you will then be able to submit an electronic I-20 request through myOGS. OGS encourages you to submit your transfer I-20 request as soon as possible to provide ample time for the issuance of the I-20 prior to your enrollment.

How to prepare for, access and submit the online Transfer I-20 Request:

Step 1: Required documents (must be in digital format of PDF or JPEG):

  • Color copy of the identity page of your passport
  • Financial documents meeting your program’s expenses:
    • To access the estimated expenses for the NU college of your program, please see “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms & Guides page.
  • Currency Conversion:
    • If you are submitting financial documents that are not in U.S. Dollars, please provide a currency conversion and upload it to the e-form. Here is a currency conversion calculator – https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
  • Sponsor letter or Affidavit of Support: Only required when your sponsor is a non-blood relative
  • Transfer-in Verification Form:
    • This form is required and must be completed by the International Student Advisor (P/DSO) at the transfer-out school and the student. To access this form, please see “New Student Forms” under the Forms & Guides page.

Step 2: Accessing the I-20 request e-form

  • Please see “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms & Guides page for the e-form for the NU college of your program.
  • You will be prompted to enter your myNEU username and password login. The myOGS I-20 request e-form is designed to respond to your individual situation and will guide you through the request process. If you have any questions, please contact your specific NU college admissions office or the OGS.

Guidelines for Demonstrating Financial Support

When requesting an I-20 for your Northeastern program of study, please show all sources of financial support and ensure that the sum equals or exceeds the program’s estimated expenses for yourself and any dependents. All financial documentation must be in English (or certified English translations must be included) and must be issued within 9 months of your program start date.

To see the estimated expenses for the NU college you have been admitted to, please go to “New Student I-20 Request Forms” under the Forms & Guides page.

Financial sources must be readily available liquid assets, such as:

  • Checking or Savings Accounts
  • Money Market Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit, Term Deposits and Fixed Deposits (with maturity dates no later than the program start date)
  • Current Accounts
  • University Scholarships
  • Financial guarantee letters
  • Educational Loans (a loan application is not sufficient)
  • Benevolent Accounts

The following are examples of sources that are NOT acceptable:

  • Investment Portfolios
  • Retirement Plans
  • Public Provident Funds
  • Available Lines of Credit
  • Deeds to Real Estate
  • Material Items (examples: livestock, land, jewelry, fur)
  • Leases with Rental Income
  • Salary Agreements or Paystubs
  • Income Tax Forms

Dependents

A dependent is a spouse or children (unmarried under the age of 21).  If you would like to have dependents to accompany you during your study in the U.S., you will need to indicate this when completing your I-20 request e-form. In addition, you will need to provide a color copy of the identity page of the passport for your dependent(s).

You will also need to show additional funding on your financial documents for your dependents. For your spouse: add $10,000 to the estimated expenses for your program of study. For your child/children: add $6,000 per person to the estimated expenses for your program of study.

Change of Status Instructions

If you are currently in the United States in a non-immigrant status (B-1/B-2, F-1, F-2, H-1B or H-4) and would like to change to a different nonimmigrant status (F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2) there are two options:

Option 1: You may travel outside of the U.S., apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy with all required materials, and reenter the U.S. in the new status. This option is often referred to as Consular Processing.

 Option 2: You may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status without leaving the U.S. by completing form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status). This process can take between 3 and 6 months and it is recommend that you do not travel while your application is in process.

Please note, if your Change of Status application is approved by USCIS, you will be in your new status, but you will not have a corresponding visa reflecting the new status. As a result, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp the next time you travel outside of the U.S. in order to reenter the U.S. in your new status.

Special considerations when changing to F-1 status

In order to be eligible to change your status to F-1, your current status must be valid until 30 days before the start of your academic program and you must continue to maintain your current status until your change of status is approved. Applicants in B-1/B-2 status cannot enroll in classes until the change of their status to F-1 is approved.

Non-immigrant visa holders in the following categories are not permitted to change to F-1 status from within the U.S. and must change status through Consular Processing:

  • M-1 students
  • C, D, and K nonimmigrants
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program
  • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training
  • J nonimmigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement

When in F-1 status, you must be enrolled full-time (12 credits for undergraduate students and 8 credits for graduate students) in on-ground courses each term and you cannot work without prior authorization from the Office of Global Services (OGS).

Applying to change your status to F-1 within the U.S.

To request the change of status within the U.S., you must submit Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) to USCIS. To learn more about the application process, please visit: uscis.gov/i-539.   When completing this form, answer all questions that pertain to your case and mail this form, along with the suggested documents below, to USCIS by U.S. mail.

Suggested documents to enclose along with your completed I-539 application:

  • Personal statement, addressed to USCIS, from you, describing why you would like to change your status
  • Copy of Form I-20 reflecting the change of status notation for your program of study
  • Copy of I-901 SEVIS fee receipt (which can be paid at com)
  • Check or money order made out to the S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Copy of your letter of admission or original certificate of enrollment at Northeastern University
  • Electronic version of I-94 card (gov/i94)
  • Copy of the biographical page of your current passport
  • Copy of most the recent visa and full immigration documents for the principal visa holder (if you are holding a dependent visa, such as H4, L2, E2, F2, etc.). You may also need to provide a copy of documentation meeting or waiving the 212(e) requirement, if applicable, or copies of 3 recent paystubs for the principal visa holder, if applicable. Please discuss these specifications with the immigration lawyer of your spouse.
  • Financial documentation demonstrating how you will cover your living expenses and tuition and fees indicated on your new I-20. If the name of the account holder on your financial documents is different from your own, include a financial affidavit of support.
  • G-1145 E-Notification Request (optional)

Helpful Tips:

  • If you are applying for F-2 or J-2 status, you will need to upload your I-20/DS-2019, your marriage certificate or birth certificate (with English translation, if applicable), and copies of the principal visa holder’s documents.
  • If you are currently in A or G status, you must first have Form I-566 approved by the Department of State.

After you have submitted your Change of Status application and you have obtained a verification of successful receipt from USCIS

Send an email with your receipt number to the OGS advisor who signed your I-20/DS-2019. You may check the status of your application online at egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/index.jsp by entering your receipt number.

If USCIS needs any additional information from you, you will receive a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) notice. Please contact the OGS so that we may help you respond to the RFE in a timely manner. You will receive a paper receipt and then a decision notice (Form I-797A, Notice of Action) by mail. Please email a copy of your approval notice to the Office of Global Services. You will need to complete the OGS Check-In e-form which you will receive by email during the first week of classes so that your SEVIS record can be properly registered. If your application is not approved before the start date of your program, please contact the OGS to discuss your options.

If you move while your application is pending: Please note that if you change your mailing address, the postal service will not forward mail sent to you by USCIS. Any changes to your address while your application is pending must be updated on myNEU as well as USCIS online at egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do.

Travelling with a Pending Change of Status

We don’t recommend travelling outside of the U.S. while your application with USCIS is still pending. If you can’t avoid travelling, please consult with OGS beforehand as you may need to reach out to USCIS to withdraw your application prior to travelling and submit a new I-20 request with OGS.

Change of Status and Eligibility for CPT and OPT

In order to be eligible for both CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training) you must have completed one academic year. One academic year is defined as two semester or three quarters that meet minimum F-1 full-time enrollment requirements. It is possible for you to use your time in another status towards meeting the one academic year. If you are interested in this, please call OGS to schedule an appointment with an advisor. Please note that OGS is not able to verify the term that you will be eligible for CPT or OPT until your change of status has been approved and you have successfully moved into F-1 status.

When requesting an I-20 for your Northeastern program of study, please show all sources of your financial support and ensure that the sum equals or exceeds the estimated expenses for yourself and any dependents.

All financial documentation must be in English (or certified English translations must be included) and must be issued within 9 months of your program start date.

Financial sources must be readily available liquid assets, such as:

  • Checking or savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Certificates/term deposits/fixed deposits (with maturity dates no later than the program start date)
  • Educational loans (a loan application is not sufficient)
  • Benevolent account
  • Current account
  • Post Office accounts
  • University scholarships
  • Financial guarantee letters (for SACM or SABIC international students)

The following are examples of sources that are NOT acceptable:

  • Investment portfolios

(Examples: stocks, bonds, mutual funds)

  • Retirement plans
  • Public Provident funds
  • Available lines of credit
  • Wire transfers
  • Deeds to real estate
  • Leases with rental income
  • Salary agreements or paystubs
  • Material items (examples: livestock, land, jewelry, fur)
  • Income tax forms

Initial Students FAQ

What is an I-20?

An I-20 is a U.S. immigration document issued by Northeastern University to certify that an international student has met admission requirements for a full-time program of study and has provided proof of sufficient financial resources for his/her studies. An I-20 is required to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Newly admitted international students that have paid a deposit should request an I-20 from Northeastern University.

When can I request an initial I-20?

You can submit an I-20 Request only after you have been admitted, have accepted the offer, and have paid a tuition deposit. At that time, you will be able to submit an electronic I-20 Request through myOGS. The Admission office of your school will guide you with these steps.

I am a new international student coming from outside the U.S. Will I be considered initial student?

Yes, initial students are considered new international students coming from outside the U.S. seeking visa sponsorship.

I have a financial document but I am not sure if it’s acceptable for I-20 issuance. What should I do?

Please refer to the “Guidelines for Demonstrating Financial Support” on the I-20 Instructions.

When is the I-20 deadline for my initial I-20?

You need to contact your Admission office of your respective school to find out the deadline for I-20 submission.

How long does it take for the initial I-20 to be issued?

The Office of Global Services takes up to two weeks for I-20 review after the request has been approved by the Admission office. Please note that during the peak season it may take longer.

What document do I need to submit for initial I-20 request?

In general, you need to submit a passport copy and a financial document but you should refer to the I-20 instructions.

Who will be my point of contact if I have questions about the I-20 request?

Your I-20 request will be fist reviewed by the Admissions office and during that stage please communicate with them. Once your I-20 request is approved by the admission office, the OGS will receive it and we will contact you typically within 10 business days.

My financial document is not in US Dollars. Will it be still acceptable?

You can convert the amount into US dollars via oanda.com and upload a screen shot of the conversion together with the financial document.

How much money do I need to show for I-20 issuance?

You need to show that you can cover at the expenses for the first academic year. Please refer to the I-20 instruction information for the exact amount for your program.

I will be coming with my wife/husband/child to the US. When should I request their I-20?

If you are planning to arrive together you should request both of the I-20s at the same time.

I have a spouse and a child. How much extra do I need to show for their I-20s?

$10,000 extra for your spouse and $6,000 for your child.

Can you send me a scanned copy of my I-20 once it’s issued?

The Office of Global Services will not be able to send you a scanned copy. You will need to receive the original document for your visa appointment. We will send you your SEVIS number in advance for you to start the F-1 visa process.

How will I receive my I-20?

Your I-20 can be mailed to you or you can pick it up from our office in case you are in the U.S. Please mark your choice when completing the I-20 request.

When can I enter the U.S.?

You can enter as early as 30 days prior to the start of your I-20 and as late as the start of your I-20.

My initial I-20 does not have a travel signature and I will be entering the U.S. for the first time. Will I be able to enter the U.S.?

You do not need to have a travel signature when you enter the U.S. for the first time on your initial I-20.

I am incoming Ph.D. student and I received SGA from my academic Department with the amount, which technically can cover for my spouse, who will be coming on F2 visa as my dependents and for myself. Can I show this SGA letter as proof of financial document for both of our I-20s?

No, not for both. You can only show this document for your own I-20, but not for your spouse. You would have to show additional funding of $10,000 with your I-20 request at that time, since SGA offers only cover principals, and not dependents.

Transfer Students FAQ

When can I request a transfer in I-20?

You can submit an I-20 Request only after you have been admitted, have accepted the offer, and have paid a tuition deposit. At that time, you will be able to submit an electronic I-20 Request through myOGS. The Admission office of your school will guide you.

When is the deadline to request a Transfer in I-20?

You need to contact your Admission office of your respective school to find out the deadline to I-20 submission.

What documents do I need to submit for Transfer in I-20 request?

In general you need to submit a color passport copy, a financial document and Transfer In form (signed and completed by both your transfer out International Student Advisor and yourself), but you should refer to the I-20 instructions.

How long does it take for the I-20 to be issued?

The Office of Global Services takes up to two weeks for I-20 review after the request has been approved by the Admission office. Please note that during the peak season it may take longer.

Can my I-20 be issued before the Transfer Release date?

Your I-20 can be issued as early as the Transfer Release date, but please keep in mind that the Office of Global Services takes up to two weeks for I-20 review after the request has been approved by the Admission office.

How do I decide when to be my Transfer Release date?

In general, your Transfer Release date has to be within 60 days from your program completion. Please communicate with your current institution to determine the Release date.

Will I pay another SEVIS fee if I transfer my I-20?

You will not be required to pay another SEVIS fee if you have transferred your SEVIS record.

My F-1 visa is valid and I just received my Transfer in I-20. Do I need to apply for a new F-1 visa because my current F-1 visa stamp has my previous institution name on it?

If your F-1 visa is still valid and you have received a Transfer in I-20 with the same SEVIS number, you will not be required to apply for a new F-1 visa. You can enter the U.S. with the Transfer in I-20 from NEU and your valid F-1 visa.

If I leave the U.S., when can I enter and will I need a travel signature?

If you leave the U.S., you can enter any time prior to the start of your NEU program with your Transfer in I-20 and F-1 valid visa. A travel signature will not be needed for first time entry.

Change of Status Students FAQ

I heard I can change my status either inside the U.S. or by travelling abroad. Which option is best for me?

Both options have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it depends on your personal situation.

The Change of Status process within the U.S. will take several months to complete with the recommended guidance for you to stay in the U.S. while your application is pending with USCIS.  This option is usually taken by students who wish to maximize their current visa status opportunities.

If you decide to change your status via travelling abroad, you will need to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States. If you have a specific timeline for studying in mind, this path might be better for you.

You should schedule an appointment with an OGS Advisor to determine if you are eligible to do this request.

How do I request a Change of Status I-20 within the U.S.?

You can request your I-20 by completing the I-20 Request E-Form for your specific program. Please communicate with the admissions office of your respective college at Northeastern for details about when it is time for you to start the I-20 request.

What documents do I need to submit along with my completed Change of Status application?

Please refer to our “Change of Status Student” tab for more information about the required documents.

How long does it take for USCIS to make a decision about my Change of Status in the U.S. request?

USCIS processing time can vary greatly, but please expect that it will take around 6 months, on average. You can check the status of your application online after you receive your receipt number through their Case Status Online Portal or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

What is G-1145?

The G-1145 Form is a form that will notify USCIS to send you updates or notifications about your case through e-mail or text message. You can access the Instruction Page through this link here.

If I am on a G or A visa, do I need to have the I-566 approved in order to apply for a Change of Status I-20 within the U.S.?

That is correct. If you are on either of these two visa types, you must have the I-566 approved.

When is the deadline to apply for the Change of Status I-20 within the U.S. I-20?

Please check with the Admissions office of your respective college for their deadline to submit the I-20 request.

I received a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. What should I do?

This request was sent to confirm additional information about your application. Please contact OGS at 617-373-2310 and schedule an appointment with one of our advisors to assist with responding to USCIS.

I heard that if my application is not approved by the start of my admitted term, I can study on my current visa. Is that true? How do I report this to Northeastern University?

This is a possibility if your current visa status allows you to engage in part-time or full-time studies. You can confirm this information through this fact sheet from Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/Nonimmigrant%20Class%20Who%20Can%20Study.pdf

If I do begin my studies on my current visa status while waiting for my F-1 status to be approved, how do I report this to Northeastern University?

In order for OGS to be properly updated, we will require that you will need to complete a Data form, which will ask you for proof of your current visa status. You can access the Data Form here:

https://myogs.northeastern.edu/istart/controllers/client/ClientEngine.cfm?serviceid=EFormDataForm0ServiceProvider&menuFlag=true

My application was pending with USCIS for more than 6 months. What should I do?

It is possible that USCIS will take more than 6 months to review your application. If this happens, please confirm with USCIS by checking the status of your application online through their Case Status Online Portal or via calling National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

What should I do once my Change of Status request gets approved?

Once your Change of Status Request is approved, you should e-mail the OGS advisor that assisted you with your I-20 request and send them a copy of the official I-797 Approval Notice through e-mail.

If my Change of Status in the U.S. gets approved, can I apply for F-1 visa in the U.S.?

If your Change of Status application is approved by USCIS, you will be in your new status, but you will not have a corresponding visa reflecting the new status. As a result, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp the next time you travel outside of the U.S. in order to re-enter the U.S. in your new status.

If my Change of Status in the U.S. does not get approved by the beginning of the term that I was admitted in, what shall I do?

If your application with USCIS is still pending two weeks after the start of your program, you will need to defer your I-20 to the next available term. Please contact with the OGS advisor who assisted you with your Change of Status process to request this.