I-20/DS-2019 Application

To come to the US as an F-1 or J-1 Student, you will first need to request your form I-20 or DS-2019.  You will apply on-line via the ISSS iPenn system.

You will need the following in order to access and complete the on-line application:

  • An email from ISSS which will include a limited access PIN and application instructions
  • Your 9-digit Admission ID (which is provided by your Admissions Office) or your US Social Security number

  • A copy of your passport page(s) with your name, date of birth, citizenship & expiration date

  • The required Financial Documentation

Processing Time: Please note that as of March 23rd, 2020, ISSS office will be working entirely remotely and this will impact our processing times. During this time, please allow five to six weeks once ISSS receives your complete application

Upon receipt of your form I-20 or DS-2019, you will then take the next steps to acquiring F-1 or J-1 status.


Additional Resources


Financial Requirements

The I-20/DS-2019 application process and US visa interview require you to show sufficient funding to cover the financial requirements of your program.  

Please note:

  • Only proof of your FIRST YEAR at Penn is required.

  • These requirements are estimated expenses and are subject to change.

  • The estimated and actual figures may differ but minor discrepancies will not affect the visa application. 

  • The amount includes tuition, fees and living expenses for one academic year (fall and spring semesters)

    • This amount is for the first year of study at Penn.

    • Summer expenses are not included.

  • The financial information will appear on your I-20 or DS-2019.

  • The financial document(s) you provide must equal or exceed the financial requirement for your program. 

  • The amount shown on your I-20/DS-2019 may be less than the amount you have provided on your financial statements. The I-20/DS-2019 only needs to show you have funds for the estimated cost for your program.

  • A completed financial cover sheet  must be included with your documents.

  • Documents must not be older than 1 year at the time of the I-20/DS-2019 application.

    • Highly recommended: Convert funds into US dollars. If not possible, clearly indicate the quantity and type of currency.

  • Funds must be liquid.  This means that they can quickly and easily be converted to cash, such as checking or savings accounts without withdrawal prohibitions.

    • Examples of funds that ARE NOT liquid include:

      • An assessment of the value of your assets (home, car, property, jewelry)

      • Proof of employment or salary

      • A report on your stock and investment portfolio  

      • Pension or retirement plan

  • Bank statements:

    • Online printouts should include account holder's name, account type, and bank name.

    • Highly recommended: You have an official bank statement for your visa interview.

  • Bank letters:

    • It is preferred your bank letter is in English.  If not possible, you must include a notarized English translation.  

  • Personal Funds:

    • Saving or Checking bank account in your name

    • Pre-approved student loan taken out in your name (such as Wharton loan)

  • School Funding:

    • Fellowship, Scholarship, Assistantship or Grant money awarded to you by Penn

  • Other Funding:

    • Scholarship or grant from a non-Penn source (example: home government, current employer or private organization)

      • Sponsor letter should be on official letterhead  

    • Bank account in your mother's or father's name

    • If a person other than your mother or father is supporting all or a portion of your study, please include an affidavit of support letter.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Penn does not automatically issue I-20s or DS-2019s to its admitted students. You must apply for the document.

  • If your application for admission is successful, you will receive an email with instructions to apply for an I-20 or a DS-2019. We encourage you to apply for the I-20/DS-2019 as soon as you receive these instructions. 

  • If you did not receive the email or you do not have a 9-digit admission ID, please notify your Penn admissions office or department.

If you are not able to login to the online application system, this is most likely because the admission office has not yet uploaded the admission record into iPenn, verifying that you have been admitted to Penn.

  • Please contact the admission office directly and urge them to inform ISSS of your admission immediately.

  • If the admission office already uploaded your admission record in iPenn, please verify the date of birth with the admission office.

During peak season, the processing time may take up to 3 weeks after we receive your complete application. 

Please note:

  • All required financial documents are required to start the process.

  • Complete applications will be processed in the order they are received.

  • Regretfully, we cannot expedite your request due to the high volume of applications.

  • We advise not to set up your visa interview until you receive the document.

To complete the SEVIS transfer procedure:

  1. After you log into iPenn and choose "Yes" to the question about SEVIS Transfer, you will see the Transfer In Request Form.

  2. Follow the instructions on that form in order to have it completed by the International Student Advisor at your current US institution.

  3. The I-20/DS-2019 will be created for you once:

    • ISSS has received your I-20/DS-2019 Application 

    • The Transfer In Request Form has been completed and

    • After the SEVIS record is released to Penn by your current institution. 

  4. After arriving at Penn you must attend a mandatory document check-in and orientation session at ISSS within 15 days of the program start date listed on the Penn I-20/DS-2019Failure to complete the transfer process as described will jeopardize your immigration status in the US.



  • In SEVIS, our school name appears as “University of Pennsylvania”.

  • Our J-1 program number is P-1-00183

  • The University of Pennsylvania does not issue F-1 I-20s/J-1 DS-2019s for all programs. Please review the list of programs here.

  • For F-1 transfer, your program at Penn must begin within 5 months of the end of your previous program.  For J-1 transfer, consult ISSS.

  • If you still have an unexpired F-1 entry visa from your previous program, you may continue to use that visa for travel after you are transferred to Penn.

If you are an F-1 student admitted to a new program at the same or different education level, please use your Pennkey to log into iPenn to complete a new I-20 application e-form.

Consult your ISSS Advisor:

  • If you are a a J-1 student.  There are are potential restrictions on changing your major field of study and/or J-1 category.

  • If you are admitted concurrently to another program and need additional time to complete your studies.  You may be eligible for a program extension.

  • For any OPT or travel related concerns

If you want to use your award letter as part of your financial proof to obtain the I-20/Ds-2019, you have to wait. 

  • You can still submit the rest of your online application

  • Your application will be put on hold until you send us a copy of the award letter.

Helpful tips:

  • You should explain to the financial aid office that you first need the award letter to obtain the I-20/DS-2019 from ISSS.

  • The processing time for the I- 20/DS-2019 may take up to 3 weeks during the peak season.

  • Once you receive the I-20/DS-2019, you have to schedule a visa interview with the US embassy/consulate.

  • It is difficult for you to plan your trip without having the I-20/DS-2019 and the visa.

  • Kindly ask the financial aid office to make a decision at their earliest convenience so you can attend Penn.

  1. Review How To Return from an Absence

  2. Contact your school to get permission to return to the program.

  3. Use your Pennkey to log into iPenn to complete a new I-20/DS-2019 application. 

Please note: ISSS cannot process your application until your department approves your return and updates the Student Record System (SRS).

After you have submitted your complete application with all financial documents, you can check the status of your application in iPenn

  • When your document is processed, you will see “I-20 or DS-2019 Status: Created”


Please do not have your friends, relatives or departments call or email us to check the status of your application.

If your application is complete, please do not upload again.  Uploading again will send your application to the end of the queue.

Please email ISSS with the following information so we can investigate your case immediately:

  • Your full name and date of birth or 9-digit admission identification number

  • Indicate whether you are admitted by Penn as an undergraduate, graduate or non-degree student

  • You can scan or photograph your documents and save as PDF format.  (JPG also available)

  • Then you can upload them into iPenn.

    • If you are having issues uploading the document, please try using Firefox when using iPenn. If the file is too large, use a screenshot application, such as snipping tool, to take a screenshot of the picture and save it then upload the screenshot into iPenn.

  • Please do not upload the same document again.  Uploading again will send your application to the end of the queue.

Dependent(s) is defined by US Immigration as "spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years old only."

If your spouse and/or children are US citizens or permanent residents of the US, they are ineligible and do not require an  I-20/DS-2019.

iPenn allows you to submit each dependent's I-20 or DS-2019 application together with your application or separately.


What's next?

Please review  Acquiring Your F-1/J-1 Status for the next steps in the process.