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I-20 and Visa Information

If you are an international applicant and need an F-1 (international student) visa, you must demonstrate that you can afford the educational and living costs for nine (9) months in the United States without working. Students with F-1 visas must attend school full-time, which is defined as 18 course hours per week in the Intensive English Program (IEP).

General Information about SEVIS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement requires all F-1 and J-1 non-immigrants seeking initial attendance visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate to pay a processing fee of $200. This fee is charged to cover the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS.

  • The fee can be paid to the DHS in one of two ways:
    1. Online (
    2. By mail (go to to print the FORM I-901 in PDF format. Fill it out and attach a check or money order from a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. dollars. Then send it to the identified address.
  • The fee can be paid by the student or by someone else (family member or friend) inside or outside the U.S.
  • The fee must be paid at least three business days before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate to get a visa.

For additional information, please go online ( or contact us directly. If you are unable to access the Form I-901 to pay the fee, please let us know and we can email this form to you.

General Information about I-20s & Visas

An I-20 is a document issued by the school that the applicant plans to attend. The I-20 shows that applicants have the financial support for educational and living expenses in the U.S. International students must have a valid I-20 during their studies in the U.S. (Students with a valid I-20 are referred to as “in status.”) International students who are in status are legally living in the U.S. even if their F-1 visa expires while in the country.

How to Obtain an I-20

Before Georgia State issues an I-20, applicants must (1) be accepted into the IEP and (2) demonstrate that they can afford educational and living costs in Atlanta for 9 months. The amount required is an estimate of expenses for tuition, school fees, room and board, personal expenses, books and supplies, and local transportation. Go to Costs and Dates for more specific information of these expenses.

How to Obtain an F-1 Visa

Students apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, preferably the one in their home country. When applying for the visa, applicants should bring to the embassy or consulate:

  • an I-20 issued by the IEP (this is the school that the applicant plans to attend)
  • originals (no copies) of the financial documents that were submitted to the IEP in support of the I-20
  • a passport valid for at least 6 months from the current date

Visa hints for students: click here

Completion of Studies

Students are expected to complete programs within a specified amount of time. The date that a student is expected to complete a program is the expiration date of the I-20. The expected completion time for the Intensive English Program is one year from the start date. However, the I-20 is ususally valid for 18 months. Students do not need to submit new financial documentation during this period.

Withdrawing from the IEP

If you (1) enter the USA with an 1-20 from the Intensive English Program at Georgia State University; (2) transfer from another school/program and receive an I-20 from the IEP at GSU; (3) extend your GSU IEP I-20; or (4) early register for IEP classes and then decide to withdraw, there is a $600.00 administrative withdrawal fee.

Other Useful Information Concerning Visas

Maintaining F-1 Status

Extending Your I-20

Travel Information

Changing Your Visa Status