A certificate of eligibility has been issued to you for the purpose of obtaining a student visa (an I-20 for an F-1 visa or an DS-2019 for a J-1 visa.) PLEASE READ CAREFULLY ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THE I-20 OR DS-2019. You should present the certificate of eligibility (Form I-20 or DS-2019) and your passport to the U.S. consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The officer will review your documents, determine your study intentions and your plans to return home after you complete your studies. The officer may request additional documentation (particularly financial verification) to be sure of your eligibility for a student visa. It is possible that you will be subject to a 30 to 90 day waiting period when you apply for your visa.
If all is in order, a student visa will be issued in your passport. It is important to note that the validity of the visa does not indicate how long one may remain in the U.S. It indicates the last date by which you may use that visa to enter the U.S. Your length of stay will be determined by an immigration officer at the port of entry.
NOTE: Canadians do not need consular visas. They may obtain the appropriate visa status at the port of entry to the U.S. by showing proof of citizenship, the certificate of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) and financial documentation.
Spouse and Children:If you will be accompanied by your spouse and/or children you must complete the form attached to the admissions application and provide the appropriate financial information to the school. The university then issues immigration documents that include your dependents and allow them to apply for the J-2 or F-2 visa.
Tourist Visas: DO NOT ATTEMPT to enter the U.S. on a visitor, B-2, “tourist” visa. If you do enter the U.S. in B-2 status, you will be required to apply to the immigration service for a change of status. This may not be approved. You will NOT be permitted to study if you enter the country on a tourist visa until and unless the USCIS approves the change to F-1. (This usually takes about 4 months!) USCIS strongly discourages changes from B2 to F1.