Obtaining a Student Visa

Start by submitting our application.

In order to have an I-20 or DS-2019 issued, 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 issuance.

Illinois will not issue I-20s or DS-2019s after January 1 for the spring term, June 1 for the summer term, or August 1 for the fall term. We will begin issuing I-20s for fall freshmen and transfer students on March 1.

You’ll need to upload the following documents within your application. Documents sent to our office outside of the application won’t be matched.

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 $62,800 available for at least 1 year of study. The bank letter or statement must be dated within 1 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 from 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 the evidence of financial resources we’re requesting you to present before a visa is granted. Therefore, we recommend that you make and maintain copies of all documents submitted for your personal use. We don’t return or provide you with copies of these documents.

2. Passport Copy

Submit a copy of your passport. Don't submit a copy of your sponsor's passport.

Prepare for shipping.

Once your I-20 is ready for shipment, we'll update your admitted checklist and you'll receive an email. After you get this notification, set up an account through eShipGlobal. We use this express shipping service for the mailing of I-20s at the recipient's expense. You'll be required to create a username and password in order to make an account.

Setting up shipping before receiving notification from us will delay shipment of your I-20. Please do not create an account until you receive our email. Make sure you have the following items with you at that time:

  • UIN (found on your admitted checklist)
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Credit card information

Choose the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the university and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as the department/contact.

Once your I-20 is shipped, eShipGlobal will send you an email that includes the tracking number and order details. Any issues concerning shipping should be addressed with eShipGlobal.

How you obtain your student visa depends on your situation.

If you’re 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 or J-1 exchange visitor visa. If you're a Canadian citizen, you don’t 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 days before the program start date listed on your visa document.

If you’re 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 to Illinois. The international student advisor must release or transfer out your record in SEVIS, which then permits us to create a transfer-in I-20 or DS-2019. Our SEVIS school codes are CHI214F01070000 for F-1 visa holders and P-1-00209 for J-1 visa holders.

If you’re planning to attend the University of Illinois Intensive English Institute before you begin the university academic program: Notify us via email or by calling 217-333-0302 before applying to the Intensive English Institute.

If you’re presently living in the U.S. on a dependent visa allowing full-time study (such as H-4 or E-2): You won’t need the I-20 form. However, if you plan to change your status to F-1, you’ll need an I-20. Notify us if you’ll 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 at International Student and Scholar Services via email or by calling 217-333-1303.

If you’re an applicant for permanent residency and have submitted form I-485: You won’t need the form I-20. Present your permanent resident application materials, especially form I-485, when you report at International Student and Scholar Services.

If you’re currently in the U.S. on B-1 or B-2 visitor status: U.S. government regulations won’t 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’re unsure of how to change your status, contact us for information.