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Student Visa Document Request

Follow this process to request your student visa document (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019). Important: You cannot request a visa document until you have been admitted to a full-time program and paid your enrollment deposit confirming that you will come to Tufts. You will receive instructions from your admissions office regarding enrollment deposit requirements and deadlines.  The deadlines are in the U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

VISA DOCUMENT REQUEST (VDR) DEADLINES: Fall 2020 Program

  • School of Dental Medicine (Transfer Students): June 15, 2020, (PGE  & DMD Students): May 31, 2020
  • All Schools: June 30, 2020 

VISA DOCUMENT REQUEST (VDR) DEADLINES: Spring 2021 Program

  • GSBS, Public Health, and Friedman (spring deferrals and arrivals ): October 1, 2020
  • Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy: November 30, 2020 - date changed

VDRs are processed in the order in which they are received, with the exception of students from countries that are experiencing long visa processing times.

Step One: Understand Your Financial Requirements and Prepare Financial Documents

The International Center is required to verify that you have adequate financial resources to cover the estimated tuition, fees, health insurance, and living expenses for at least the first academic year of your program. In addition, while you are only required to provide documentation for one year of studies, you should develop a plan for any future years of study if your program will last more than one year. You must take into account the fact that opportunities to get additional funds after starting your program - whether through on-campus employment, scholarships, or financial aid - may be extremely limited.

F-1 and J-1 students must show that they have enough funds to cover the full-time tuition, fees, health insurance, and living expenses (including room and board and personal expenses) for their programs. You should begin by reviewing the Estimate of Expenses (EOE) for your program. You must be able to document the amounts indicated on the EOE for your program.

Family Members: If you will be joined by F-2 or J-2 family members while at Tufts, you must show an additional $6,000 per year for your spouse and $3,600 per year for each unmarried dependent child under the age of 21. Eligibility for F-2 or J-2 dependent status is restricted to your legal spouse and/or unmarried dependent minor children under 21.

Once you have your estimate of expenses, you will need to prepare acceptable financial documents that show you have enough funds to cover your expenses while at Tufts. Failure to provide acceptable financial documents will lead to delays in issuance of your I-20 / DS-2019 visa document.

Important Note: the information on the financial documents you provide will be included in your US Homeland Security SEVIS record and used to certify your eligibility for your F-1 / J-1 visa. By submitting these documents to the International Center, you are attesting to the availability of financial resources to fully support your education at Tufts. Knowingly providing documents that are not genuine, accurate or representative of your financial means and resources may lead to serious immigration consequences, including a finding of visa fraud and/or termination of your ability to enter or remain in the US as an F-1 or J-1 student.

Types of Financial Documents Accepted

Financial documents should be prepared as attachments and can include any combination of the following. Documents should be in English or accompanied by an official or unofficial translation. Documents should be dated within the past six months upon date of submission to the International  Center.

  • Personal or family bank statement, in English with names clearly printed
  • Scholarship letter(s) from government sources, your Tufts department, or other scholarship-granting agencies, clearly indicating your name, scholarship year or dates, and covered amounts
  • Financial aid awards from Tufts (Tufts email or official letter required)
  • Approved loans (confirmation of loan approval, not just application, required)

The following types of documents are NOT accepted for purposes of establishing eligibility for F-1 / J-1 status:

  • income tax or salary statements
  • property deeds or rental agreements
  • investment or stock portfolios
  • promissory notes
  • lines of credit from credit cards
  • statements from chartered accountants
  • other statements regarding assets that are not available in liquid cash amounts
Affidavit of Support
You are required to download and complete the 2020-2021 Financial Affidavit of Support if you are receiving financial support from a third party individual or organization. Complete the affidavit and attach it to your financial documents when submitting your visa document request if one or both of the following situations applies:
  1. Your studies at Tufts are being financially supported by individual family members (including parents and relatives) or other private individuals (such as friends) - the affidavit must also be signed by the individual sponsor
  2. You studies at Tufts are being financially supported through a scholarship, fellowship, loan, grant, or financial aid package provided by a third party, non-Tufts organization - examples include a home government scholarship, home country university or employer, an international organization, or other private organization (including educational loan provider)

You do NOT need to submit the affidavit if your financial resources are from your own personal accounts and/or from a Tufts University letter scholarship, grant, or financial aid package. In these situations, a personal bank statement and/or a Tufts scholarship or financial aid award letter are sufficient.

Step Two: Prepare and Submit Your Visa Document Request

Prepare the following Visa Document Request materials. Because you will be uploading these documents into the International Center's immigration portal, prepare these as clear electronic copies (scans):

  1. Passport identification page (including any dependents accompanying you)
  2. Financial documents that meets your required estimate of expenses
  3. F-1 / J-1 Transfer Form (only for students already in the US in F-1 or J-1 status intending to transfer their status to Tufts)*

*While Tufts does not require to submit copies of your I-20 / DS-2019 forms as a part of the Visa Document Request process, you should keep copies of all previously-issued I-20s / DS-2019s even after completing your transfer to Tufts. 

This section is for international students who are already in the United States in F-1 or J-1 status at another institution and who plan to start a new program at Tufts. In all cases you must currently be maintaining valid status and have an active SEVIS record with your current sponsor.

F-1 Students: To qualify for an F-1 Transfer, you must begin classes at Tufts within 5 months of completing your studies or your post-completion Optional Practical Training at your previous institution. Talk to your international student advisor at your current school about your plans. If you qualify for an F-1 Transfer, ask your advisor to complete our F-1 / J-1 Student Transfer Form. Your current sponsor will need to complete the form and return it to you so that you can submit it with your Visa Document Request. In addition, you will need to set a SEVIS Release Date, which is the date your current school will release your SEVIS record to Tufts. Tufts cannot produce a Form I-20 visa document for you until your SEVIS record is released to us.

J-1 Students: You must notify your current J-1 sponsor that you plan to transfer to Tufts before your current J-1 program expiration date. Your current J-1 sponsor and the Tufts International Center will need to coordinate the transfer so that there are no gaps between your two J-1 programs. Your current sponsor will need to complete the Tufts F-1 / J-1 Student Transfer Form and return it to you so that you can submit it with your Visa Document Request. In addition, you will need to set a SEVIS Release Date, which is the date your current J-1 sponsor will release your SEVIS record to Tufts. Tufts cannot produce a Form DS-2019 visa document for you until your SEVIS record is released to us.

Download the F-1/J-1 Transfer-in Form

If you are already in the US but in another status, and wish to change to F-1 (or J-1) student status, you will need to take additional steps after you have received your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from Tufts. There are two options for changing your status:

  • Option 1: Travel: this requires departing the US, applying for a new F-1 / J-1 student visa, and entering the US with the new visa;
  • Option 2: Applying for a change of status from within the US
    • Important Note: this option only allows you to pursue a new status without having to leave the US. If you later travel outside the US, you will still need to apply for a student visa prior to returning to continue your studies (exception: Canadian citizens do not require entry visas)
    • This option is not available to any person currently or previously in J-1 or J-2 status who is subject to the two-year home residence requirement

While Option 1 is generally recommended as the fastest and most efficient method to obtain student immigration status, it may not suitable or advisable in every situation. Please consult with an international student advisor about the advantages and disadvantages of each option. For more detailed information about Option 2, change of status within the US, go to our Change of Status information page. If you decide you would like to change your status from inside the US, you will need to request a "Change of Status" I-20 when submitting your Visa Document Request to the International Center.

Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel to and from the US is highly limited; in addition, US consular operations remain closed or on limited operations. As a result, for the present time, more students may wish to consider change of status options for pursuing student status.

Do You Need F-1 or J-1 Student Status?

You are not required to apply for F-1 (or J-1) student status if you already have another US immigration status that permits you to study. We recommend that you consult with your current immigration sponsor to determine whether your current status has restrictions on study or employment or will expire before you complete your program. In particular, students in the following situations should take note:

  • Most dependent children in a dependent visa classification (e.g., F-2, H-4, J-2) lose dependent status once they get married or turn 21, whichever comes first
  • Dependent spouses / children lose dependent status if the principal visa holder (e.g., F-1 for F-2 dependents) ends or terminates their legal status
  • F-2 dependents are not permitted to study on a full-time basis until granted F-1 status
  • B-1 / B-2 visitors are not permitted to pursue a course of study while in B-1 / B-2 status
  • H-4 dependents are permitted to study full- or part-time, but may not accept US employment unless they have been issued a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card

If you have any questions about your current status and the steps needed to obtain F-1 or J-1 student status, please contact an International Center advisor.

 

Step Three: Activate Your Tufts Email and Username

You must activate your Tufts email and username (also known as your UTLN) before you can submit your visa document request. Once you have activated your email and username, wait at least 24 hours before submitting your document request.

Step Four: Submit Your Visa Document Request!

Once you are ready, click on the button to below to access the ICenter Portal (Terra Dotta) system, where you will submit the materials needed to apply for your visa document. Once you submit your visa document, you will receive an automated confirmation email and your request will be sent to an International Center advisor. If our office has any questions, you will be contacted directly. Otherwise, your visa document will be processed within 7 to 10 business days after your completed request has been received.

Definitions

The International Center issues two different kinds of visa documents (or "certificates of eligibility") to students: Form I-20 for F-1 students and Form DS-2019 for J-1 students. You will need a visa document to apply for an F-1 or J-1 student visa, to enter the US as an F-1 or J-1 student, and while studying in the US in F-1 or J-1 status.

A visa is a sticker that is placed in your passport. It is issued at US consulates outside of the US. You need a visa to request permission to enter the US for a particular reason, such as full-time study.

In addition to the F-1 and J-1 visas, there are a variety of other types of visas such as the B-1/B-2 visitor's visa, the H-1B temporary worker visa, among others. While you can have many different types of visas in your passport, you can only use one type of visa to enter the US at any given time.

A valid F-1 or J-1 visa is only needed to enter the US. Once you are inside the US, your ability to stay in the US depends on whether you are maintaining valid F-1 or J-1 student status.

Citizens of Canada are not required to apply for visas to enter the US. However, if you are a Canadian citizen and plan to come to the US as an international student at Tufts, you will still need a visa document such as a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to be able to come to the US to study.

The F-1 student visa is the most common student visa. Tufts offers F-1 visa sponsorship for most undergraduate and graduate programs and some post-baccalaureate, certificate, and English-language programs. F-1 students are required to study on a full-time basis.

F-1 students can be joined by a F-2 spouse and/or unmarried minor children under 21. F-2 family members cannot work while in the US. F-2 children can attend kindergarten through high school, and can study at the college / university level on a part-time basis only.

To qualify for J-1 student status at Tufts, one of the following must apply:

  • You are an exchange student
  • You are receiving a US or home government scholarship that requires J-1 status
  • You are receiving most of your funds from a scholarship (government or university) or other non-personal or non-family source

In certain cases, you may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

J-1 students can be joined by a J-2 spouse and/or unmarried children under 21. J-2 family members can study on a part-time or full-time basis and can apply for employment authorization after coming to the US.

Processes

To request express mail delivery of your visa document, refer to our Express Mail page for instructions. Note: international undergraduate students receiving Tufts international undergraduate financial aid do not need to submit an express mail request through this system. You will be notified about express mail options directly.