Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding the US University admits and I-20.
I have completed application and sent all the supporting documents. Why does my application status say documents not received?
Most of the Universities have a Graduate admissions team which manually changes the application status when your documents are received. Since a huge number of applications are received by every University, it will certainly take time to update your application status even if they have received all the documents. But if the status is not changed for a long time, send out a mail to the Grad Office with your query.
When will I get an admission decision? Will I get a decision early if I apply early?
For FALL term, most of the US Universities start providing admission decisions as early as January, while some give an admission decision as late as June. For SPRING term the decisions are given somewhere between September to November. While it is logical that if you apply early, you will get an admission decision early, it may not be true. All your supporting documents including the recommendation letters, transcripts and SOP must be received by the admission committee of the University before your file is prepared and forwarded to the Professors to make an admission decision. Your admission decision might be taken immediately, while it might be kept on hold for certain reasons. It also depends on the total intake of the University. If the intake is large, you can expect an early decision if you have applied early. For very selective Universities, you might not here from them for a very long time.
I have got an admit from University A. Should I accept the offer or wait for other University admits to make a decision?
Many Universities these days ask you to accept the admission and pay a certain non-refundable fee before they issue an I-20. The fee may range from $50 to $200. This fee is automatically credited to your account and is used towards payment of your tuition fees. Once you have accepted the offer and sent the financial proof to the University, the University will issue an I-20 document which is required for F1 VISA applicaiton. For FALL term, no University can force you to take a decision before June and deny your admission if you fail to accept their offer. So, if you have an admit, you will certainly get an I-20 from the University even if you accept their offer very late. We suggest you wait till most of your admission decisions are out and then select one University from multiple admits.
I have got an admit from University A. What should I do next?
After you get an admit from a University, you need to send them your financial document stating availability of funds for first year expenses. This amount is the amount mentioned on your I-20 and you can find this on the University website. The University will then issue an I-20 document which is required to apply for F1 VISA. You will not be able to apply for US VISA if you do not have the admission decision. To know more about the I-20, read this article: What is I-20 document and how to get it from your US University?
Should I submit financial documents to all Universities that I got an admit from and get all the I-20s?
If you have 4 admits and are sure about which University you will pursue your higher education at, there is no reason why you should send the financial documents to all the Universities and collect I-20s from all the Universities. If you are confused between the Universities, only then you should get I-20s from those Universities that you are not able to decide.
When should I apply for F1 VISA?
You are eligible to apply for an F1 VISA when you have received the signed I-20 hard copy from your University and have also paid the SEVIS fee. Although you can apply for an F1 VISA early, you will not get the VISA stamped if you have applied more than 120 days before the start date mentioned on your I-20. For example, if your FALL term starting date is 29th August 2013, you will not be given the VISA stamping before 1st May 2013. So, it is advisable to apply for the F1 VISA after this date, even if you have the I-20 much earlier. Read this article for a detailed information regarding F1 VISA application dates - When to apply for F1 VISA?