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Obtaining a Student Visa

For an international student to study in the United States, it is necessary to obtain an F-1 (student) visa. To apply for an F-1 visa, the school that the student desires to attend must issue an I-20, or Certificate of Eligibility.

How do I get an I-20?

Before issuing an I-20, a university is required by law to verify that prospective international students have:

  • The academic ability to be successful at their campus
  • Proficiency of the English language
  • Financial support for their intended program of study including books and living expenses

Carthage issues an I-20 for a prospective F-1 student after the student has been admitted (see International Admission Process) and has provided evidence of full financial support for the expenses of tuition, room, board and books for study at Carthage for the proposed period of time.

How do I apply for an F-1 Visa?

Once an international student that resides outside the United States has been issued an I-20, he/she may make an appointment at for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. To learn more about the process of applying for a student visa, each prospective student should check the Web site of the embassy or consulate where he or she will apply.

While it is possible to obtain an I-20 form from several different colleges, the student may only use one of them to apply for a student visa. The student is then required to begin studies at the college/university whose I-20 form was used for the application of the F-1 visa.

A student may also find more information about studying in the United States through the Education U.S.A. website (

Because each government has its own requirements for students to study outside of their country, each student should understand the regulations/requirements necessary to apply to study in a different country.

I’m already in the U.S. Now what?

Prospective students with valid legal status may be eligible to apply for a change of visa status to the F-1 student visa. To apply for a change of status, the student would also need an I-20 form.

Prospective students currently attending another college/university who already have a valid F-1 visa may be eligible to transfer their student status from their current school to Carthage without departing from the United States and without applying directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.


If you have any questions, please contact Mallory Madson, Carthage International Student Coordinator, at