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How to Apply for an I-20/DS-2019

Students do not need to wait until they are admitted to submit the information required to obtain the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

The I-20 Request for Fall 2020 will open in the ISSS Portal on February 1st.

Deadlines for Requesting an I-20/DS-2019:
Students beginning in the Spring (January): December 1
Students beginning in the Summer (May): April 15

Students beginning in the Fall (August): July 1

What is a Form I-20/DS-2019?

Form I-20s and Form DS-2019s are “Certificates of Eligibility” for F or J status. These forms show the U.S. government that you are considered eligible to apply for a F-1 Student visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor visa based on your documented funds and academic record. After receiving an I-20/Ds-2019, you may schedule an appointment for a visa interview at your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Note: Georgia Southern issues the I-20/DS-2019, but does not issue the visa. 

Remember! The I-20/DS-2019 application process takes time to complete, so you should begin as soon as possible!

IMPORTANT: If it is near the deadline to submit documents for your I-20 and you are still pending admission, Graduate Assistantship or a scholarship, you should still submit all your documentation before the deadline.

Determining Your Visa Category

F-1 (Student) Visa

  • Students wishing to pursue a full degree and formally graduate from Georgia Southern University including…
    • Bachelor’s degrees
    • Master’s degrees
    • Doctoral degrees
    • Studying in the English Language Program (ELP)
  • F-1 visa students will need to be regularly admitted to Georgia Southern and will need to obtain a Form I-20 from the university

J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa

  • Students from a school with an approved exchange agreement with Georgia Southern
  • Students with government scholarships to study in the U.S. under an approved exchange or scholarship program
  • Exchange students/scholars who plan to study and/or conduct research at Georgia Southern for one semester or one academic year
  • J-1 visa students will need to obtain a DS-2019 from the university.
  • Exchange Students MUST visit the Exchange Student Information page for information on their DS-2019 application process.

Required Documents for I-20

F-1 visa applicants must submit the following items. All documents must be submitted through the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Portal.

How to access the ISSS Portal if you HAVE been admitted:

  1. Access the Portal here.
  2. Click on “Click here for ISSS Portal login.” You will see a website that says “ISSS Portal Georgia Southern University – OIPS” in the top left corner.
  3. Click on “LOGIN” at the top right corner in the black navigation bar. Use your MyGeorgiaSouthern username and password to log in.
    • (If you have not already logged into your MyGeorgiaSouthern student account, you must do that in order to proceed. You can log into your MyGeorgiaSouthern student account at
  4. In the ISSS Portal, you should see your account with biographical and academic information about yourself. 
  5. To submit your documents for an I-20, click on the link on the left that says “I-20 Request Form” and follow the instructions.
  6. To submit your documents for a DS-2019, click on the link that says “Exchange Student Application.”
  7. If you have difficulty logging in, please email your name and Eagle ID to so we can look into it.

How to access the ISSS Portal if you have NOT been admitted

  1. Access the Portal here.
  2. Click where it says “Click here for ISSS Portal login.” You will see a website that says “ISSS Portal Georgia Southern University – OIPS” in the top left corner.
  3. You should see the page titled “Security : User Identification Wizard: Step 1”.
  4. Select the option “I do not have login credentials to this site.”
  5. Select the option “I am not currently registered at an institution.”
  6. Complete the New User Form.
  7. Click “Create Account”.
  8. You will receive an email with the login credentials. Follow the instructions in the email.
  9. After you have logged in, you should see your user account with information that you provided.
  10. To submit your documents for an I-20, click on the link on the left that says “I-20 Request Form” and follow the instructions.
  11. If you are unable to log in after multiple attempts, please send your name and email address to so we can look into it.

Tips on Applying for an I-20/DS-2019

After Requesting an I-20/DS-2019

  • It will normally take 1 week to prepare your I-20 or DS-2019 once you have been accepted and have submitted all of the SEVIS/visa documents.  
  • When your I-20 is prepared, you will receive an email with the next steps on how to receive it, as well as the next steps in the visa process. Please refer to the Study in the States website as a primary reference.
  • Please review all the information in the email to ensure that everything is correct.  
  • When you’ve verified that it is correct, you will respond to the email with your choice of shipping method for the document.  You can choose airmail for free (which could take 6 weeks or longer in some rural areas), but we recommend using the express service.  Your document will reach you in a much shorter amount of time and will include a tracking number.  You’ll find details on both these options in the email.
  • Your email message will also contain the information you need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee must be paid at least three days before your F-1/J-1 visa appointment or entry to the U.S. if a visa is not required.  When paying the fee online, print at least two receipts.  Take the receipt (Form I-797) with you to your visa appointment and keep it permanently with your I-20/DS-2019 forms.
  • You will need to make a visa appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or Diplomatic Mission.  Consult the U.S. Department of State for valuable information on what you will need for your visa appointment.  Among other things, remember to take your I-20/DS-2019, letter of acceptance, I-901 payment receipt, and financial documentation with you.   An F-1/J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning that you will need to demonstrate that you intend to return to your home country after your studies are complete. 

See more Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about obtaining a visa.

Last updated: 1/15/2020