Frequently Asked Questions
A Guide to International Student Forms, Agencies, and Abbreviations
- I-20 - An I-20 is the form the University gives you states you are academically and financially prepared to study at UND. When someone from UND signs it, they are saying that you have met admission requirements and have financial support. The I-20 has a big "F-1" written on it, but it is NOT a visa
- F-1 visa - a stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States in F-1 student status.
- F-2 visa - stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States in dependent status
- F-1 status - following all the rules for students the United States who are pursuing a degree program
- F-2 status - following all the rules for dependents in the United States
- SEVIS - the "Student and Exchange Visitor System". UND enters your information in this system. It creates a record for you. The information in your SEVIS record as well your unique SEVIS number print on the form I-20.
- SEVIS or I-901 fee - this is a fee required by the government. It costs $200 and you can pay it at fmjfee.com. You will need your receipt for your visa application when you enter the United States
- I-94 - a number that you get each time to you enter the United States. You will need it when you want to apply for things like a social security number or OPT. You can get it here
- USCIS - "United States Citizenship and Immigration Services" the government department that oversees F-1 status issues.
Q: What is an I-20? Why do I need it?
A: I-20 - An I-20 is the form the University gives you states you are academically and financially prepared to study at UND. When someone from UND signs it, they are saying that you have met admission requirements and have financial support. That's why we need the Certificate of Finances. There are spaces on the second page of the form I-20 for University staff to sign, stating that you are continuing to maintain your status
You need this form to prove you are eligible for a student visa. You must have this form in order to apply.
Q: What's the difference between the I-20 and the visa?
The I-20 is a form UND gives you that certifies you are eligible to attend and that you are continuing to maintain your status. A visa is a form the U.S. government gives me that allows you enter the United States in F-1 status. Canadian students do not need a visa stamp in their passport, just a form I-20, to enter in F-1 status.
Q: Visa? Status? Are those the same thing?
No! The visa only gives you permission to enter the United States in student status. Once you are in the United States, the visa is no longer important. What is important is that you follow the rules on page three of your I-20. Following those rules is called "Maintaining Status" and allows you to legally remain in the United States even if your visa is expired.
So your visa gets you into the United States. Maintaining your status lets you stay in the United States. If your visa does expire, you don't need to worry about it until you travel. You will need to renew it if you leave the United States and want to reenter.