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Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
Fax: 202-885-3354
Butler Pavilion, Room 410

ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
410 Butler Pavilion
Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041

Immigration Process

How to Obtain Your I-20 or DS-2019 Documents

You must first be admitted to American University before the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) can begin processing your immigration paperwork. After you are admitted, you will need an immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country.

Here are the steps you need to follow to receive an I-20 or DS-2019 from American University:


Step 1: Submit Your Deposit* to Your Admission Office

After you are admitted to American University, you must submit your deposit *if required by your admission office (refer to the instructions provided in your admittance package). 


Step 2: Submit the CFIS Form and Supporting Financial Proof to Your Admission Office

All students are required to demonstrate financial ability to pay for at least one year of tuition, fees and living expenses (or one semester for the one-semester certificate programs) before American University can issue an immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019).

You must submit a completed Certification of Finances for International Students (CFIS) Form and supporting official financial proof to your admission office.

  • For the estimated costs per program of study, see our Cost Guides.
  • For more information on submitting financial documents and for sample financial documents, see our Financial Proof page. 


If you are transferring to American University from another U.S. institution, please also provide the following additional items:

Once you have submitted these documents, your admission office will send us a request to process your I-20 or DS-2019. For questions on the process, you can contact your admission office directly. For questions on financial documents, please contact ISSS at or (202) 885-3350.


Step 3: Receiving your Immigration Document

Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued within 2 weeks** from the time the ISSS office receives and reviews all of your documents. Your admission office will then mail it out to you to the mailing address you provided on your CFIS Form.


**Any issues that arise during the review process may delay the issuance of your immigration documents. If issues do arise during the review process, ISSS will contact you through the email you provided at the time of your application to American University.


Please contact your Admission office:

  • If you would like to change your email address.
  • If you would like to change your mailing address for the I-20 or DS-2019.

You will receive a Pre-Arrival Guide for International Students along with your I-20 or DS-2019 that will explain your next steps:


Step 4: Pay the SEVIS Fee

Before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, all first time F-1 and J-1 visa applicants (as well as some others) are required to pay the SEVIS FEE in addition to the visa application fee. For more information, please see our webpage on the SEVIS Fee for F-1 and J-1 Students.


Step 5: Apply for a Visa

After you receive your immigration documents, you will need to apply at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country for your F-1 or J-1 visa. For information on how to apply for a visa, please see our webpage on Applying for a Visa to the US.

Questions? Please contact us at or +1 (202) 885-3350.