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Understanding Your I-20

The Form I-20 is the primary document to show that you have been admitted to school in the United States and that you are authorized to apply for an F-1 visa. You must have your Form I-20 with you at all times, especially when you travel to and from the U.S. If you lose or damage your Form I-20, you must request a replacement from the Office of Global Engagement.

Form I-20 Page 1

Visual of the first page of the Form I-20, containing the SEVIS ID number, biographical information, school information, program of study information, financials, and school attestation.

Section 1 – SEVIS ID & Biographical Information

  • Gives you your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) ID number. Your SEVIS record and ID number is like a backpack – if you transfer schools or change your education level, your SEVIS record goes with you. Unless your record closes or your studies are interrupted, you will have the same SEVIS number for the duration of your studies in the U.S.
  • Please review this section carefully to check for any discrepancies. The name on your I-20 should match the name that is listed in your passport.
  • “Admissions Number” is always blank.
  • Preferred name, passport name, and legacy name may be left blank – they are not required by USCIS.

Section 2 – School Information

This section includes the school name, address, and school official information. You can use the information in this section while filling out the DS-160. 

Section 3 – Program of Study

  • This section includes information about your level of education (Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate), your major and corresponding CIP code, and the program start date and end date. 
  • If any of this information changes at any time (i.e. you change your major, need extra time to complete your program, etc.) you must contact the Office of Global Engagement to update your I-20.

What is a CIP code?

The Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code is defined by the U.S. Department of Education and will correspond with your major at Montclair State University. 

PLEASE NOTE: Sometimes, the CIP code name is different from your Montclair State University major name because the CIP codes categorize majors at universities across the entire United States. It is OK if the major and CIP code on your I-20 doesn’t exactly match the name of your program. For example, the MS in Business Analytics at Montclair will appear as Management Science on the I-20 because the CIP code is 52.1301. This will not impact your ability to receive a visa. 

You can find more information about CIP codes here: CIP Codes and Your Program of Study 

Section 4 – Financials

The left-hand column has the breakdown of the cost for one year’s attendance at Montclair State University. The right-hand column lists the funding information that you provided to Montclair State University on your I-20 application.

Section 5 – School and Student Attestation

  • This section of the I-20 is required for validation of the document. 
  • The Designated School Official (DSO) who created the document must sign to verify that the student is attending the institution and maintaining their visa status. 
  • DSOs may electronically sign the I-20 and send it to the student electronically. 
  • Once you have reviewed and verified all the information on your I-20, you MUST print the document to sign and date the “Student Attestation” section in blue ink, which will validate the document for use.
  • Your parent/guardian only needs to sign IF you are under 18 years of age.

Form I-20 Page 2

Visual of the second page of the Form I-20, containing information about employment and travel endorsements.

Section 6 – Employment Authorization

This section displays employment information ONLY if you have requested and been approved to work off-campus (CPT, Pre-OPT, Post-OPT, STEM Extension). If given employment authorization, this section will contain the type of work authorization granted to you including the status of your request, name and location of the company, and the length of the employment period.

Section 7 – Travel Endorsement

  • This section contains all travel signature endorsements provided by a Designated School Official. 
  • Each signature is valid for one year from the date signed and attests that the student is attending the institution and maintaining their visa status.

Form I-20 Page 3

Page three of your I-20 are the terms and conditions you are agreeing to when you sign your I-20. This page has very important information regarding your status and policies which you must abide by including visa application, employment, extensions, transfers, and re-entry. We recommend you read this page very carefully before signing your I-20 on page 1.

Page three of the Form I-20, explaining the terms and conditions you are agreeing to when you sign your I-20.