Certificate of Eligibility - I-20 or DS-2019

The visa application process was not at all as daunting as I thought it would be. You do have to jump through a number of hoops to complete your application, but it's obvious the US Embassy staff have tried their hardest to streamline the process and to make it as efficient as possible. I really found the visa process to be pretty manageable. Marc, University of Pennsylvania

After you have been accepted to a programme in the US, you will work with your US university or visa sponsor to get a certificate of eligibility to show you are eligible to apply for a student visa.

For F-1 students, this is the "I-20", known officially as Form I-20 A-B Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student Status. For J-1 students, this form is called the "DS-2019".

In order to receive an I-20 or DS-2019, you will be required to show proof of funds for your educational and living expenses for the first year. This can include scholarship offers, bank statements/letters, loan documents etc. This figure will be based on the cost of attendance listed on the financial aid webpage of the university. Please note you may use any combination of personal/family savings, scholarships and loans to fund your studies; however, you will not be able to include anticipated earnings during your studies (i.e. working on campus). If you will be taking dependents (i.e. children, spouse) to the US, you will be required to show funds to cover their living expenses as well. Dependents will be included on the same certificate of eligibility.

Allow 4-6 weeks for this process. Check out our while you wait page for ideas for how to make the most of this time.


Note: This page is meant to be a general guide to the visa application process. Local US Embassies are the official source of information on visas, and any information provided to you by the US Embassy supersedes information on this webpage.


For more information on visas visit the US State Department website. They have sections on  

F Visas and J Visas. You may also want to review the information provided by the US Embassy in London. Additionally, talk with your US university or visa sponsor for further information. If you are not a UK citizen, we encourage you to also read the US Embassy London's webpage on visas for non-residents.