This information will guide you through the process to obtain your Georgia Tech I-20 or DS-2019. OIE understands that the issuance of an I-20 or DS-2019 is a time-sensitive process and works diligently to get forms issued as quickly as possible. Please read the information below to avoid common delays and to answer many questions you may have about the immigration and visa processes.
Students can apply for a student visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad only after they have received the original I-20 or DS-2019 and have paid the SEVIS I-901 fee. Detailed information about the student visa process can be found on the U.S. Department of State website. Please visit the website of the Consulate closest to your home to begin to prepare for the visa application process and interview. Understand that making a visa appointment prior to obtaining the immigration form I-20 or DS-2019 can delay your ability to obtain the student visa and arrive on time for classes at Georgia Tech.
- Undergraduate Students, refer to the links below:
- Graduate Students, refer to the links below:
- SEVIS Transfer
For more information, click here: https://isss.oie.gatech.edu/content/transfer-sevis-i-20-record
- Change of Status
How can I change my status to F-1?
There are two ways to change visa status to F-1:
1. International Travel and Re-entry
- This process involves leaving the United States to apply for an F-1 visa at a US embassy. Students will then re-enter the U.S. using their new F-1 student status upon return. Students entering on an initial I-20 are eligible to enter the U.S. 30 days before the I-20 start date. If you will not be entering by the start date listed on the I-20, you need to contact OIE and request approval from OIE and your academic program for late arrival. U.S. government requirements limit the latest date a student can enter on an initial I-20 to 30 days after the I-20 start date, however, approval is needed from OIE and your academic program for late arrival.
General information about applying for an F-1 visa can be found in this Knowledgebase. We also encourage you to review guidance at your local U.S. consulate for accurate and up-to-date information from the consulate where you will be applying for your visa.
2. Apply for a Change of Status within the U.S.
If you would like to apply for a change of status within the U.S., you will be required to submit Form I-539 and all supporting documentation to USCIS. Applying for a change of status within the U.S. will allow you to remain inside the U.S. while your application is pending. The USCIS processing times for the I-539 process vary between 2 and 10 months and during this time you will not be eligible for F-1 student visa benefits, including F-1 on-campus work authorization and practical training. If you depart the U.S. while the I-539 application is still pending with USCIS, the I-539 Change of Status request is considered abandoned and the SEVIS ID associated with the request will be terminated. You will need to secure a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID, pay the I-901 fee, and apply for an F-1 visa to be eligible for re-entry in F-1 status. If you elect to change status within the U.S. you are encouraged to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about the benefits and risks of your specific case. https://isss.oie.gatech.edu/media/5
- If you change your status in the U.S. using the Form I-539, you will be required to request a visa stamp from an embassy or consulate the next time you travel outside the U.S. This visa stamp will be required when you re-enter the U.S.
- OIE staff are not licensed to practice law and cannot provide legal counsel on questions related to filing the I-539, nor can OIE assist with the preparation of the I-539. Students needing assistance with preparation of the Form I-539 or with questions beyond the general information provided by OIE are encouraged to consult with a qualified immigration attorney.
- Students in a status eligible for full-time study: If you are maintaining a status that allows for full-time study, you have the option to begin your studies based on your current status while the change of status is pending with USCIS. Please work with a qualified immigration attorney on the transition from your current status to F1: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/changing-a-nonimmigrant-f-or-m-student-status
- Students in a status eligible for part-time study (such as F-2): If you are maintaining a status that allows for part-time study, you have the option to begin your studies part-time based on your current status while the change of status is pending with USCIS. At Georgia Tech, part-time is 11 or fewer credits per semester. Please work with a qualified immigration attorney on the transition from your current status to F1: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/changing-a-nonimmigrant-f-or-m-student-status
- Students in a status that is not eligible for study (such as B1/B2): If you enter the U.S. in a status that does not allow study, including the B1/B2 visa and ESTA program, you cannot begin your studies at Georgia Tech until after your change of status has been approved by USCIS. You will need to work with your academic department or Admissions to defer your admission each term until your change of status is approved. You will also need to work with our office to defer your I-20 program start date each semester until the change of status is approved. Please work with a qualified immigration attorney on the transition from your current status to F1: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/changing-a-nonimmigrant-f-or-m-student-status
Whether you travel or apply for the change of status, you will need to apply for an I-20 from Georgia Tech. If you have further questions about receiving your I-20 from OIE please arrange a meeting with an OIE advisor by either attending virtual drop-in hours or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.