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International Student Affairs

Becoming a F-1 or J-1 Student at Hofstra University

The first step to becoming an international student at Hofstra University is to be accepted into a full-time degree seeking program. For more information, please contact:

After you are accepted to a program of study, you can then apply for the immigration documents necessary to study in the United States.

Applying for the I-20 or DS-2019

The Form I-20 is an official government document on which Hofstra University certifies to the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 student status. It certifies that you have met our admission requirements, have been accepted to a full course of study and have submitted proof that you have enough financial resources to cover the full length of your program of study.

The Form I-20 is an official government document which certifies to the U.S. government that a person is eligible for F-1 student status. Form DS-2019 is an official government document which certifies that a person is eligible to be a J-1 exchange visitor. Most Hofstra University students apply for F-1 status. Both F-1 and J-1 student immigration categories allow you to apply to enter the U.S. for the purpose of studying full-time. 

These forms are not automatically generated when you are accepted to Hofstra; they require that you complete a separate I-20 or DS-2019 application and provide documentary proof that you have enough liquid funds to cover the full length of your program of study. Once a completed application is received, the Form  I-20 or Form DS-2019 will be sent to you to be used to apply for the appropriate student visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Visa issuance is always at the discretion of the U.S. Department of State and is not guaranteed.

Initial I-20s and DS20-19s are issued by the following offices. Please contact them if you have any questions.

  • Undergraduate students: Once you are accepted to Hofstra, the Admissions Office will request the necessary information for creating an I-20 or DS-2019 form for you. That information will be forwarded to the International Student Affairs office, who will create your I-20 or DS-2019. Then the Admissions Office will mail the I-20 or DS-2019 to you. If you have already been accepted to Hofstra University and need to check on the status of your I-20 form, contact InternationalAdmission{at}hofstra.edu.
  • Graduate students: Once you are accepted to Hofstra, the Office of Graduate Admissions will request the necessary information for creating an I-20 or DS-2019 form for you. Then, that information will be forwarded to the International Student Affairs office, who will create your I-20 or DS-2019 and send it to you. If you have already been accepted to Hofstra University and need to check on the status of your I-20 form, contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at GradIntl{at}hofstra.edu.
  • Law students: Once you are accepted to Hofstra, the Law School will request the necessary information for creating an I-20 or DS-2019 form for you. Then, that information will be forwarded to the International Student Affairs office, who will create your I-20 or DS-2019 document and send it to you. If you have already been accepted to Hofstra University and need to check on the status of your I-20 or DS-2019 form, contact lawadmissions{at}hofstra.edu.

Applying for your F-1 or J-1 Visa

Once you have received the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019

If you are deciding between multiple schools, do not sign the I-20 or the DS-2019 or apply for a visa until you make a decision on what school to attend. Signing the document means that you understand all the rules and regulations that you will have to follow once you are in the Unites States.

We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn more about the F-1 or J-1 student visa application. View U.S. Department of State student visa application information. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also provides helpful advice on their Study in the States website.

Pay the SEVIS Fee
In order to make a visa appointment, you must pay the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SEVIS I-901 fee. Payments can be made online at https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp. Be sure to print out a receipt to bring to your visa interview. Do not pay the fee until you have your I-20 or DS-2019 in your possession.

Make a Visa Interview Appointment
Schedule an appointment to apply for a student visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate closest to your residence abroad (See a list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates). Each U.S. Embassy and Consulate has application instructions posted on their website.

Preparing for the Visa Interview

A student visa is a non-immigrant visa. By law, the Consul Officer must assume that all non-immigrant visa applicants plan to remain in the U.S. permanently. It is up to the applicant (you, the student) to convince the Consul that you will go home again when have completed your academic program.

In order to ensure that your interview for an F-1 visa is successful, you should be prepared for what to expect. Practice your English and be ready to answer questions such as: Why do you want to study in the U.S.? Why are you going to take this program of study? Why did you choose Hofstra University? What career will your studies prepare you for back home? You must have a good academic or professional objective for coming to the U.S. and Hofstra to study.

Documentation: Many F-1 or J-1 visas are denied because the applicant does not bring all the necessary documentation to the interview. Be sure to bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Your acceptance letter to Hofstra University
  • Your original I-20 or DS-2019
  • Your original financial documentation, proving that you have the financial means to cover the costs of your entire program of study
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  • Proof of ties to your home country (see below)

Compelling Ties to Your Home Country: By law, the Consular Officer must assume that all non-immigrant visa applicants (you, the student) intend to remain in the U.S. permanently. To successfully obtain your visa, an important part of the application is convincing the Consul Officer that you plan to return home after you complete your studies in the U.S. To do this, you must establish “compelling ties” or strong bonds to your home country. An example of compelling ties could be immediate family members living there, property, or a job offer waiting for you once you complete of your degree. It is helpful to bring documents to support your connection to your home country. Some examples of documentation proving strong ties to your country are: A letter from a potential employer saying that they are interested in people with degrees like the one that you will be studying. If your family owns a business, take a letter from the bank describing it, and if they own property, it is helpful to take the deeds. In addition, if you have a brother or sister who studied in the U.S. and then returned home, take a copy of his or her diploma and statement from his or her current employer.

Relationships in the U.S.: It is not beneficial to emphasize immediate family members permanently residing within the U.S. In addition, do not talk about working in the U.S. since you are required to prove that you can support the financial costs of studying and living in the U.S. Employment in the U.S. is strictly controlled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is not guaranteed.

English: If your Form I-20 states that you are proficient in English (see item 6 on your document), the Consul is required to hold the visa interview in English.  Practice speaking in English, read U.S. newspapers and magazines, and watch television in English.  You might also be asked to show your TOEFL results. Unless you are expected to take English language courses, you will be expected to be able to communicate clearly in English at the interview.

Passport: Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the program end date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Former U.S. Study: If you started your studies in another immigrant status and received a change of status to F-1 inside the U.S., be prepared to discuss how your original purpose for coming to the U.S. changed to that of a full-time student. It is also recommended that you speak with International Student Affairs for additional counseling before you apply.

Personal Matters: Consulates can be impersonal when administering the visa interview and implementing immigration law. In the U.S., laws are applied equally to all people regardless of status or gender. Therefore, it is not in your best interest to negotiate or discuss personal matters with the consular officer. Answer all questions truthfully and concisely.

Denials: If your visa application is denied, request the reason for the denial in writing. Then contact your appropriate admissions office with information about why your application was denied.  

We will try to assist you in any way that we can, however it is the Consulate’s decision whether or not to grant a visa. Although we can research the situation for you and try to help, there is no guarantee that a later application attempting to overcome the denial will be approved.