Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search


Your Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility is a document issued by the Tufts International Center to show that you have been admitted to a full-time program of study at Tufts, and that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your educational and living expenses.

How Do I Obtain My I-20?

Once you are admitted to your program, you will need to apply to the International Center for your I-20. Once the International Center receives your complete application, an advisor create a record for you in the US government's SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) database. Once your SEVIS record is created, the International Center will be able to create and print a Form I-20 for you. With your I-20, you can then apply for an F-1 student visa at a US consulate and later travel to the US as an F-1 student. Note: the International Center is responsible for issuing all Form I-20s to F-1 students (and their F-2 dependents) studying at Tufts University.

Main Points about Form I-20

  • Basic information on an I-20: Your I-20 contains your biographical information. It also includes information about your degree or educational objective, the school's address and contact information, the program start and end date, the estimated expenses associated with your program, your financial resources, and other details including employment and practical training authorizations. Click on the image to the right and read the information about the main sections of the I-20.
  • Your I-20 has a unique SEVIS ID number: The SEVIS ID number can be found at the top of the form. In general, you will keep the same SEVIS ID number throughout your program, even if you transfer your F-1 status to another school. You will get a new SEVIS ID only if you stop your studies for any reason and more than five months passes before you come back to the US to re-start your studies (or start a new program).
  • The I-20 can be updated multiple times as your information changes: Your initial I-20 reflects your initial program information. As your academic situation changes, you may need to get an updated I-20. For example, you may need to get a new I-20 if you change your major or degree objective, or get an extension if you need more time to complete your program. You will also need to get a new I-20 if you decide to transfer from one school to another. Consequently, you may end up receiving multiple I-20s during your time as an F-1 student. We recommend that you keep all I-20 copies in your personal records.
  • Your Form I-20 is not a visa: You need an I-20 to apply for an F-1 student visa and enter the US as an F-1 student. However, it is not the same thing as a visa; the I-20 is produced by your school, but visas are issued only by US consulates outside of the US. Note: Canadian citizens do not need to apply for visas, but still must have an I-20 in order to enter the US as F-1 students.
  • The program start and end dates are extremely important: Your I-20 reflects your expected program start date (usually the first day of classes) and program end date (usually the last day of your final semester). Understanding these dates is critical, as they determine how long you can stay in the US or when you need to do certain things, like applying for an extension. The program start and end dates reflects an estimate of the amount of time an average student in your program would need to complete the requirements for the program. See the "Program of Study" tab on this page.
  • The I-20 is used during travel: During your studies, and as long as you are an F-1 student, you will need to carry your I-20 and use it with your passport and F-1 visa when traveling internationally and re-entering the US. Your I-20 needs to be signed by an International Center advisor at least once a year if you plan to travel outside of the US. See the "Travel Endorsement Signatures" tab on this page.
  • The I-20 can be replaced: If your I-20 is lost, stolen, or damaged, contact the International Center. We can issue a replacement.
  • Dependent I-20s: Your dependents (legal spouse or unmarried children under 21) must have their own individual I-20s. They will need to have their own I-20s to apply for and enter the US using F-2 visas.

Other Uses

The I-20 is also often needed for other official purposes such as when applying for a Social Security Number, driver's license, or doing employment verification paperwork when starting an on-campus or off-campus job.


Sample I-20

Click on the image above to look at a sample I-20. Note: Form I-20 is updated with minor revisions periodically. Your actual I-20 may differ slightly from the sample above, but the main sections should be the same.

I-20 Sections