A Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” is issued when you are admitted to one of The Tseng College’s programs (except for students who already have an I-20 and are transferring from their current school into the Tseng College).

See “Getting to the United States” at the Study in the States website, for great information about the whole process.

In addition, Study in the States just released a new “Guide to Studying in the States”. The guide has short, easy to understand sections, and it discusses degree programs as well as English Language Training.


The following steps are for students who will use their new I-20 to obtain an F-1 Student Visa and then enter the U.S. to begin school.

  1. Check your Form I-20 for accuracy.
    Check all data on your I-20, but pay special attention to NAME – your name should be exactly the same as your passport, and DATE OF BIRTH – I-20s have your date of birth in the US format MONTH/DAY/YEAR.

    When admitted to the Intensive English Program (IEP), the Program of Study on your I-20 is Language Training. If you are Conditionally Admitted for a Bachelor or Master degree, your I-20 will be for Language Training but in addition to the Conditional Admission letter, your I-20 clearly states on page 1 that you will be admitted to your degree (including the major and if it is for undergraduate or graduate level) upon completion of the English language requirement.

  2. Pay SEVIS-I-901 Fee — as soon as possible.
    Every school that admits you will issue an I-20. When you decide that you want to attend the Tseng College program you applied to, immediately pay the SEVIS I-901 fee for the I-20 issued by the Tseng College.

    You will need the following information to pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) I-901 fee: Your SEVIS number which starts with ‘N’ followed by ten numbers, and is on page 1 of your I-20; this school’s SEVIS school code, which is LOS214F01950000; your address and email address; and be ready to pay the $350 fee. If using a credit card that is not in your name, you will also need the name and address of the cardholder.

    Keep the receipt!

    Note: Students are expected to attend the school that issued their Form I-20.

  3. Photograph of yourself.
    Photo Requirements
  4. Apply for a visa, Form DS-160, online.
    After completing the visa application, print the confirmation page. You must upload your photo while completing the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) form.

    For Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about applying for a visa: travel.state.gov/visas and studyinthestates.dhs.gov/visa.

    See how long it should take to get a visa appointment at cities around the world: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html

    Learn more at: “Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study” https://educationusa.state.gov/your-5-steps-us-study

    A valid visa is mandatory to enter the US - If not using a new visa to enter the United States, make sure your current visa does not expire in less than 6 months following your entry into the U.S.

    Students can stay in the U.S. after their F-1 visa expires as long as they stay in status in SEVIS - However, whenever students travel outside of the United States, they must have a valid visa to re-enter. Students who leave the US with expired visas must apply to a US Consulate to renew their visa before attempting to re-enter the US.

  5. Make a visa appointment at a United States Embassy or Consulate no more than 120 days before the start date of your course of study.
    In addition to student visa information available at the U.S. Department of State website, you can also check the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for a visa. You can also check visa wait times in a particular city on the U.S. Department of State website.
  6. Documents to Bring to Visa Interview
    • Passport - Must be valid for at least 6 months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.
    • I-20
    • Receipt for SEVIS I-901 fee payment.
    • DS-160 Confirmation Page
    • Acceptance letter from The Tseng College program to which you have been admitted (IEP, GCBA, SAC, MPA, Taxation, etc.)
    • Financial support documentation
    • One 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) photograph ("Passport style")
    • Check the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply for any additional documents that may be required.
  7. The Visa Interview, Questions Asked

    Why do you want to study at this school?
    The consular officer may ask how or why you chose this school and your particular major. You may also be asked about your educational goals. Bring transcripts, diplomas, national exam results, English-language test scores or other documents that show you are a committed student.

    Financial documents – Are you able to pay your way?
    Need to show access to enough money to live and pay for schooling for one year, OR for special short-term programs, enough money to cover tuition and living expenses for the amount of time you will be here.

    Your I-20 has the financial information you submitted with your application, including the relationship between you and the person or institution on the bank statement or sponsorship letter.

    If the bank statement(s) or bank letter was not from your parents or a close relative, be prepared to explain the relationship and why this person is willing to be your sponsor.

    Are your ties to home so strong that you will not want to remain permanently in the US?
    You must intend to return to your home country after completing your studies in the U.S.

  8. Pay Visa Issuance Fee
    When the visa is approved, you may pay a fee and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Visa fees are nonrefundable.
  9. Enter the United States!
    You are allowed to enter the U.S. a maximum of 30 days before the Program Start Date on your I-20. In other words, you can enter the U.S. on the program start date on your I-20 or one to 30 days before that date.

    Keep these documents with you while traveling:  Passport, Visa, Form I-20, and SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.  Do NOT put them in your luggage that you check-in.

    Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W instructions
    U.S. Department of State Student Visas instructions

Once Arrived, Check In with ARC

Transfer-In students and students with new F-1 Visas: Check in per instructions (through email, online, or in person) in ARC (Admissions, Registration, and Client Services) on the 2nd Floor of the Extended University Commons Building, EU 200.

IEP (Intensive English Program) and SAC (Semester at CSUN) Students, submit:

  • Check-In form.
  • Copy of Form I-94, available at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.
  • Copy of F-1 visa (picture page)
    About entry stamp in passports:  The I-94 is THE SAME AS the entry stamp in your passport.  SUBMIT EITHER ONE, entry stamp in passport OR your most recent I-94.

Grad Students (Students in Master’s Degree programs), submit:

  • Bio Form.
  • SUBMIT PROOF OF HEALTH/MEDICAL INSURANCE when you check in or soon thereafter.
  • Copy of Form I-94, available at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.
  • Copy of F-1 visa (picture page)
    About entry stamp in passports:  The I-94 is THE SAME AS the entry stamp in your passport.  SUBMIT EITHER ONE, entry stamp in passport OR your most recent I-94.

Exception to Using an F-1 Visa to Study

To study in high school, university, college, or a language program, you need an F-1 Student Visa. Students from a country with a Visa Waiver Program still must obtain an F-1 visa in order to study.


  1. For very, very short periods of non-credit study, the Visa Waiver Program or B visa can be used.
  2. Canadian citizens: You are not required to use an F-1 visa in order to study in the U.S. but you must have the following in order to come into the U.S. to begin your studies. Canadian passport, original Form I-20, proof that the SEVIS I-901 fee has been paid, proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the U.S., and proof of ties to Canada (proof that you plan to return to Canada).
  3. U.S. citizens, "Green-Card" holders, and others who are on visas that allow study are more than welcome to attend IEP. You cannot request Conditional Admission. Simply apply for IEP Only. Submit a copy of your US Passport, Green Card, or a copy of visa or immigration documents that shows us you can study in IEP without an F-1 Visa. It is not necessary to submit bank statements.

Once Arrived, Maintaining Status