Frequently Asked Questions: I-20 and DS-2019

What is the cut-off date for I-20 and DS-2019 requests?

While we will accept requests on a rolling basis, to allow sufficient time for visa issuance we ask that you submit requests for the Fall by June 15, for the Spring by December 5, and for the Summer by April 15.

What are the international arrival and orientation dates?

Please see International Arrival and Orientation Dates

What is the time frame for issuing I-20s to newly admitted students?

From the day we receive the request, our goal is to issue the I-20 and send out the packet within 2 business days. As soon as we send out the packet, we e-mail the students and copy the respective department manager/admissions officer. The e-mail has some basic information for the student directing them to our website for more information.

What if we would like a student to arrive early?

If you would like a student to arrive early, please contact our office. Federal regulations allow students to arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date on their I-20 or DS-2019. If they just need to come early to set up a lab, start a research project, have a special orientation, etc, we can issue an I-20 for up to 30 days before the first day of classes. In addition, students can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date on the I-20, so in effect they could come up to 60 days before the first day of classes. However, they may begin work no earlier than 30 days before the start of classes.

We initially did not award a scholarship to a student and the I-20 was already sent to her. Now we have awarded her $X. Does she need a new I-20 before she applies for her visa?

No, but if she is from a country/region where students generally have a harder time getting a visa (e.g. India, China, Middle East, or Latin America), financial support from the school can help in the visa application process.

How long does it take for students to get a visa from the time they receive their I-20?

It varies by country. Students first have to make an appointment for a visa interview with the U.S. embassy in their country. After the visa interview, the visa is usually issued within 3 business days. The whole process from the time they make the visa interview appointment to the time they receive the visa usually takes about 2-4 weeks.

If an extensive security check is required (especially for students from China, Indonesia, and Middle East studying in the physical sciences) this can add an additional 3-8 weeks on to the whole process. The State Department has made significant improvements in the visa process and students are given priority (over tourists, etc) in appointments; however, we have noticed a trend of lengthy security checks for those students mentioned above.

What if a student is denied a visa?

Please have them contact our office so we can contact the embassy on William & Mary's behalf to try and resolve the issue. Fortunately, it has become a rare occasion that a W&M student is denied a visa.