Qualifying for your I-20 or DS-2019

Overview

To obtain a visa and enter the U.S. in the correct international student status, you require a certificate of eligibility: Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1.)

After you have accepted your admissions offer, your admissions department will send you information about required documentation, timelines, and instructions for applying for your I-20/DS-2019.  The Financial Resources Statement (FRS) for programs that begin in autumn quarter are usually available in May.  Your admissions department will let you know when the FRS is available.

Once you provide all the documentation listed below to your academic unit, your academic unit will send your file to our office. After we receive your completed file from your academic unit, it will take 10-14 business days for OIA to review your application and create your I-20 or DS-2019.  If anything is missing or additional documentation is needed, you will receive an email with instructions.  OIA will also send you a confirmation email once your I-20 or DS-2019 has been created.  You do not need to contact our office to check on the status of your application.  If you haven't heard from us, it means your application is in process.

Documentation You Must Provide to your Admissions Department:

Your admissions office will give you detailed instructions for this process about 3 months before your program begins. Please contact your admissions office with any questions about how or when to submit these documents to them.

  1. Evidence that you have met the English language requirement.
  2. A copy of the biographical page(s) in your passport (the pages with your picture, name and date of birth).  Your immigration record (I-20/DS-2019) and University record will be created using the name on your passport. These records must match at all times. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times while in F-1/J-1 status.

    NOTE: Your passport does not need to valid for the entire duration of your academic program.  Rather, at at any point in your studies, your passport should have at least six months of validity remaining on it. If your passport is going to expire before your program ends, you will need to apply for a new passport during your program.  Contact your country's embassy or consulate to find out how to apply for a new passport while in the U.S.
     
  3. Proof of sufficient funds to cover all expenses to study and live in the U.S. for at least the first year of study. This includes tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and costs for dependents, if applicable. In order to satisfy this requirement, you will need to provide:
    • A completed Financial Resources Statement (FRS)
    • Financial documentation to prove the funding stated in your FRS.

Both of these requirements are explained in detail below.

FRS Availability

Find your program on the list below to learn how and when you can access your FRS.

Unit/Program

FRS

Biological Sciences, Booth MBA, The College (BA), Divinity School, Harris School of Public Policy, Humanities, Institute for Molecular Engineering, Physical Sciences Division, Social Sciences Division, Social Service Administration, Graham School 

Students in these units will complete an electronic FRS in the Slate admissions system.  You will be contacted by your program when the electronic FRS becomes available.

NOTE: The FRS for Autumn 2017 start dates should be available in May.  Your admissions department will let you know when it is ready and provide instructions on how to submit your documentation.   

Graham School Summer Programs

Students in these units will complete an electronic FRS in the Slate admissions system.  You will be contacted by your program when the electronic FRS becomes available.

Graham Bridge & Partnership Programs: International Political Economy & Clinical Trials Management (CEU) Graham CEU FRS 2017

Booth IBEP

Booth IBEP FRS
 

Booth PhD

Booth PhD FRS

Booth Summer Business Scholars

Students in this unit will complete an electronic FRS in the Slate admissions system.  You will be contacted by your program when the electronic FRS becomes available.

The College: Students at Large (SAL)

You will be notified by your department when the FRS for your program becomes available.

One Quarter SAL FRS

Two Quarters SAL FRS

Three Quarters SAL (full academic year) FRS

Sawiris Scholars (one year)

The Law School: LL.M. Program

LLM FRS 2017-18

The Law School: J.D. Program

JD FRS 2017-18

The Law School: J.S.D. Program

JSD FRS 2017-18

Notes on FRS Estimated Cost of Attendance 

  • The estimated cost of attendance for the first year of studies is set for each program and cannot be altered for personal circumstances.
  • Only the minimum amount of funding required will show up on your document.  For example, if your total costs are $81,000 and you submit $100,000 worth of funding, your I-20/DS-2019 will only show $81,000 of funding. This means that not all of your funding sources (or their complete amounts) will necessarily appear on your I-20/DS-2019.
  • The estimated cost of attendance is an estimate and for immigration purposes only.  Your actual costs or bill may vary.
  • Living Expenses 
    • The required budget shown in any given FRS form is the minimum required to obtain a visa eligibility document and leaves no room for emergencies or non-essential expenses. It allows only a very modest life style and we suggest having additional funds available, if at all possible. U.S. visa regulations require that you document your support for your first year, and that similar funds will continue to be available for the duration of your academic program.
    • Living expenses are set per program and cannot be adjusted for personal circumstances. Your individual costs may end up being more or less than the estimates, but the FRS numbers cannot be adjusted for individual students and must be consistent for all students in the program.
  • Required Health Insurance 
    • You may either enroll in the University's student health insurance plan or certify that you have comparable medical coverage from another source. Please note that many insurance policies do not qualify for a waiver and you should expect to pay for the University's health insurance plan. (For more information regarding the University's policies regarding health insurance, please visit https://wellness.uchicago.edu/page/u-ship-overview)
    • Regardless of your health insurance option, your FRS amount will be calculated with the U-SHIP insurance amount.  This cannot be adjusted.
    • Government regulations require medical insurance for J-1 students and for their J-2 dependents, and the University strongly recommends it for all dependents, American and foreign. The cost for insuring dependents is not included in the living-expense figures in the required budget, although the coverage is included for the student. There is no national health plan in the U.S. and medical care is very expensive (an over-night stay in a hospital, without the cost for treatment, can cost more than $1,000.)
  • Dependents
    • If dependents will be accompanying you to the U.S., your budget must include funds for their living expenses. The amount budgeted for a spouse assumes that you will share a one-bedroom apartment, and that the additional funds will cover only the spouse's food. If you plan to send your child to a public or private school, you will require additional funds.
    • You will be required to show funding of $4,000 for each dependent that will accompany you.  Non-degree exchange students must show funding of $1,000 per dependent per quarter. One-year MA students only need to show $3,000 for each dependent (summer living expenses are excluded for one-year programs).

Acceptable Financial Documentation

To qualify for your I-20/DS-2019, you must document each source of your financial support stated on the FRS according to the instructions below.Your financial support must equal or exceed the estimated budget for your program.

The most common issues with I-20/DS-2019 applications are caused by unacceptable or insufficient funding sources.  Note that the financial documentation you provide is for I-20/DS-2019 purposes only. You do not necessarily have to pay your bill with the method of funding listed on your I-20.

Requirements of all financial documentation:

We can accept the various financial documentation listed in the chart below.  However, all financial documents must:

  • Be easy to read and understand. Statements should be clear, free from smudges, and easy to understand.  If copies are blurry or are not legible, you will be asked you to submit new ones, which will delay your application.
  • Be In English or have English translations/notation. You must provide translations of documents not in English. The translator providing the translations does not have to be an official or accredited translator. You can also annotate the original documents with clear translations of the required criteria.
  • Have the type of currency listed. The statements must indicate the currency.  This can be in letters (e.g. USD, YWD, CNY,EUR) ) or symbols (e.g. £)
  • Contain specific numerical values. Your financial statements and/or bank letters must contain actual numbers.  For example, your letter must say, "Our banking client has $70,000 USD in his account." We cannot accept letters that say "Our banking client has sufficient funds to cover UChicago expenses."  
  • Can be copies. Bank accounts are submitted through your admissions online portal, so copies are accepted.  Please do not send original documents to the University. However, you will need the originals for your visa interview. 
  • Can be screenshots. Screenshots of online bank accounts can also be accepted, assuming 1) they are clear and legible, 2) Have all required bank information as statement below, and 3) otherwise meet all criteria listed on this page.
  • Be issued within the last 6 months. The print date (not maturation or other dates) of accounts and letters must be within the last 6 months.
  • Acceptable funding source. We can only accept the types of financial documents listed below. Make sure to review unacceptable funding types before submitting your documents.

If your financial documentation does not meet the criteria above or additional clarification is needed, your file will be sent back to your admissions department, which will delay the processing of your document.  Please review the following information carefully.  To prevent delays, make sure to submit concise, easy to understand documents that fit into the categories below.

Recommended Table of Contents

If you are submitting multiple types of documentation or your statements are multiple pages long, we highly recommend including a table of contents. For each funding source, include a line detailing:

  • Type of funding (e.g. personal funds, family funds, university scholarship, etc)
  • The full name of the account holder or financial source
  • The type of funding (e.g. savings account, checking account, scholarship, tax statement, personal loan, etc)
  • Financial institution name and last 4 digits of account
  • Amounts in home currency (if not show in USD)
  • Amount in USD
  • Totals for funding

Submitting a table of contents will help prevent processing delays and expedite review. Additionally, make sure to annotate tax statements and documents that are not in English, as explained below.

Acceptable Types of Financial Documentation

Source of Funds

Documentation Required

University of Chicago

Copy of award letter or admission reply form (i.e. document detailing your funding package). This must include your name, date, and the specific amount and duration of the award. If your admissions department has included your award amount on the FRS already, you do not need to include the UChicago letter.

Other scholarship for organization, government, or private business

Letter from the agency or organization awarding the scholarship indicating your name, date, name of the organization, and the precise, numeric amount and duration of the award. The award letter should be on letterhead and signed or stamped.  This letter must include a specific award amount. 

If you are providing documentation from a private business, a scholarship letter is required and nothing else.  You do not need to send business bank accounts, deeds, or other business establishment details.  You will only need to include a scholarship letter from the company. It must be on company letterhead, include your name, date, name of the organization, and the precise, numeric amount and duration of the award. The award letter must be signed by the company official authorized to provide the statement.  This is the only document needed for company sponsorship.

Personal funds or personal loan

Preferred: Financial statement dated fewer than 6 months old* at the time you submit it to your admissions department, showing your name, date, the current balance, type of currency, and type of account (e.g. 'savings account').  If your account is multiple pages long, you do not need to include the entire statement, individual transactions, or other inserts.  Instead, just including the section outlining the current balance or account overview will be sufficient.

Preferred:  If you are using a private loan, you must provide a statement from the lender that you are approved (or conditionally approved) for the loan and in what amount and duration. It must include your name and date.

Salary statements from employers stating your monthly/annual salary and if your salary will continue through your academic program.  This statement must contain actual numbers. We can rarely accept salary statements on their own and may ask for additional funding information.

**Review our unacceptable funding types to avoid application delays.

Note: We can accept screenshots, as long as they otherwise meet the criteria above and include all required information.

Private/Family or Friend sponsor

For any funds that are not in your name (including parents or spouses) two documents are required:

  1. Sponsor Letter Template: A letter from the sponsor(s) indicating the precise amount of the financial support promised to you and the number of years the support will continue. This letter must show the date written, the name and address of the sponsor(s), and the relationship of the sponsor(s) to you (e.g. 'mother', 'friend'). The letter also needs include the sponsor's signature (not just a typed name).
  2. Accompanying the sponsor's letter must be one of the following:
    • Preferred: A financial statement dated no more than 6 months* from the time you submit it to OIA, showing the name of the account holder, date, type of account (e.g. 'savings' accounts, checking accounts, or mutual funds/stocks**) a balance equal to or greater than the amount promised, and the type of currency; If your account is multiple pages long, you do not need to include the entire statement, individual transactions, or inserts.  Instead, just including the section outlining the current balance or account overview will be sufficient.  To expedite processing, we request that you do not include more than summary/overview page for the account.  OR
    • An employer's statement with the sponsor's income, showing that it is high enough to cover the sponsor's own support plus the amount promised to the student. The statement should be on company letterhead, signed, and be dated within the past six months; Note that we can rarely accept salary statements on their own and will likely require additional funding information., OR,
    • Not recommended: A signed copy of the sponsor's income tax return from the previous year (photocopies) showing an income high enough to provide for the sponsor's own support plus the amount promised to the student.  It is rare that we will be able to accept income tax statements alone, but will consider them as part of entire funding package. Submitting income tax statements may delay the processing of your application, so they are not recommended unless absolutely necessary. 

      Instructions for tax statements: Be sure to highlight or circle the sponsor's name, tax year, and total income after taxes; if this is not clear, submit a letter of explanation. If the tax statement is multiple pages long, you do not need to include the entire statement, individual itemizations, or other inserts.  Instead, just including the section outlining the overall income after taxes or summary page. Note: income tax statements differ dramatically around the world.  Submitting statements that are multiple pages or difficult to understand quickly could result in a processing delay for your documents. We suggest using an alternate documentation method, if possible. 

**Review our unacceptable funding types to avoid application delays.

Unacceptable funding sources

The items listed on the chart above are the only items we can accept. Unacceptable financial documentation includes but is not limited to:

  • Property (such as a house, gold, or land) or certificates showing the value of property or proposed sale of such property 
  • Health/life insurance accounts, retirement or retirement insurance accounts, other 'insurance' accounts
  • The value of a business or financial statements of a business/company. However, you can receive a scholarship from the business/company (requires scholarship letter from the business stating numeric value of scholarship, the duration of the award, and be signed by an authorized representative of the company)
  • Credit card statements or credit line documents
  • Documents more than 6 months old, including for timed deposit certificates with future maturity dates)
  • Documents that do not clearly state the account holders name, financial institution name, currency, or type of account,

*Documents must be printed/issued within the last 6 months.  Even if deposit certificates/accounts show future validity, the document itself must be less than 6 months old.
**You may count 75% of the value of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and similar investments.

To prevent processing delays: If you are submitting multiple types of documentation or your statements are multiple pages long, we recommend including a table of contents explaining the type and amount of each funding source.

Additionally, if your account is multiple pages, you do not need to include the entire statement showing transactions or the entire portfolio. To expedite the process, only include the section outlining the overview or balance information.  All required information is typically on the first or last page of the statement.

Unacceptable Documentation:

We can only accept the types of funding documentation listed above.  Unacceptable funding sources include, but are not limited to: health/life insurance accounts, the value of property (such as houses, land, or gold), the value of a business (unless you have a scholarship letter from the business stating the amount of funding provided and duration), any accounts or documentation with a print date of more than 6 months in the past (including for timed deposit certificates with future maturity dates),  documents that do not clearly state the account holders name, financial institution name, currency, or type of account, documents that are not in English (or annotated), etc.

Submitting unacceptable documentation will stop the processing clock and cause application delays.  To ensure speedy processing of your application, make sure that your funding is clear, easy to understand, and meets all criteria listed above.  We recommend including a detailed index or table of contents and notations, where needed.

Common Errors in Financial Document Submissions

Files with unacceptable financial documentation are sent back to your admissions department, which will stop the processing clock and cause a delay in your document creation.  To avoid delays, make sure to follow the guidance above exactly.  The most common problems that cause files to be sent back to the admissions department include but are not limited to:

  • Additional clarification needed when multiple accounts and funding sources are used (e.g. explanation of type of account, multiple sponsors, untranslated documents, etc).  Follow the guidance above to include a table of contents, where needed.
  • Sponsor letter missing when account is not in your name
  • Sponsor letter missing actual ink signature
  • Sponsor letter missing numerical amount of support pledged
  • Type of currency missing from account documents
  • Account documents issued (printed) more than 6 months in the past
  • Any financial documentation missing specific amounts and numbers
  • Account documents are not in English and not annotated
  • Funding is insufficient.  Funding must meet or exceed the exact amount listed on your FRS. Even if you are $1 short, we have to send the file back.
  • Private sponsors or fellowships letters missing the amount and duration of award
  • Financial documentation is confusing and no table of contents is provided
  • Unacceptable documentation, such as healthcare funds, property deeds, insurance policies, etc.