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Reading Your Immigration Documents

Review the information on this page to better understand how to read your immigration documents.

Guide to Your I-20

Download this sample I-20 and review the components listed below.

Sample I-20

1 – Your SEVIS number. This number is unique to you.

2 – Your biographical information.

3 – Your current degree level.

4 – Your field of study. In some cases, this may be different from the university’s name for your degree.

5 – Your program’s start and end dates.

6 – The earliest possible date that you can enter the U.S. before your program start date (30 days before your program start date).

7 – Estimated average cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses as well as your current funding information.

8 – Remember to print, sign, and date your I-20 in blue ink!

9Employment authorization information. This section will show your CPT, OPT, and/or STEM OPT authorizations. You can find more information on CPT, OPT, and STEM OPT on our website. This section may not show your full employment history, so we recommend that you keep your previous I-20s for your records.

10 – Reduced course load (RCL) authorization is reflected here.
     10a: Reason for your RCL.
     10b: Dates of the RCL approval

11 – Official start and end dates of the semester in which the I-20 was issued. This will only show the dates of a required semester.

12 – Travel signature. Valid for 12 months from signature date unless you are on OPT, in which case it is valid for 6 months.

Guide to Your DS-2019

Download this sample DS-2019 and review the components listed below.

Sample DS-2019

1 – Your SEVIS number. This number is unique to you.

2 – Your biographical information.

3 – Primary site of activity: the main location for your exchange program.

4 – Your sponsor for your J-1 status.

5 – Start and end dates of your J-1 program.
     4a: Your sponsor’s program number.

6 – Financial support for the duration of your program.

7 – The category of J-1 exchange visitor you are—including your degree level, if applicable.

8 – Your field of study and the CIP code.

9Academic training authorization (if any).

10 – This section may indicate if you are subject to the 212e two-year home residency requirement, and the reason for being subject. This section is completed by the consular official when applying for a J-1 visa. If you obtain an updated DS-2019 from ISSS, this section may not be completed.

11 – Your travel signature which is valid for 12 months from the date of signature.

12 – Remember to sign and date your DS-2019 in blue ink!