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F-1 Degree-Seeking Pre-Arrival Steps


Apply for Your I-20

Supporting Documents to Receive Your I-20:

  1. Copy of Passport

  2. Proof of Financial Support

    • Bank Statement or Letter in English (no older than six months).
      • Providing funding of the equivalent or more of the cost of attendance listed below.
    • Sponsorship Letter if funds not in students name. (Sample letter here.)
    • Scholarship Award Letter (if applicable)
    • Graduate Assistantship Award Form (if applicable- Graduate Students Only) 
      • If you have been awarded a graduate assistantship please send the form above to your graduate department to complete, please upload this completed form in your I-20 application.
    • The total amount of funding between personal bank statements, scholarships, graduate assistantships, etc. that you upload must total the cost of attendance listed below.
  3. Please login with your UNCW credentials at the link below to submit your required documents to apply for your I-20.
    • Login Instructions

      • Username: UNCW email (without the @uncw.edu, provided in your acceptance letter)

      • Password: Initially set to DOB (mmddyyyy)

2017-2018 Cost of Attendance

  • Undergraduate Students: $38,677 USD
  • Graduate Students: $39,022 USD

Transfer Your I-20

If you are currently attending another institution in the United States as an F-1 student, you will need to transfer your F-1 status sponsorship in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) from your current school to UNCW to remain in lawful F-1 status. 
Students must obtain the new I-20 from UNCW before they commence studies at UNCW to remain in lawful F-1 status.

Change of Status 

If you are currently in the U.S. in another visa classification (e.g., H4, L2) and want to change your status to that of F-1 student, you will need to speak with staff in the UNCW Office of International Programs about this process. Please call 910-962-3685 to make an appointment with an adviser. Please note that this process can take three to four months, so please contact us as early as possible.

Don't Need UNCW Visa Sponsorship

If you do not require UNCW's F-1 visa sponsorship since you have a visa that allows you to study in the U.S. (e.g., U.S. permanent resident, H4, L2, TD, etc.), then you do not have to submit anything to the Office of International Programs. We hope you have a great time at UNCW!


Apply for Your Visa

Receive I-20

Once you complete the online I-20 application, an I-20 will be issued for you. The UNCW Office of International Programs will mail this I-20 to you so that you can begin the next steps: pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee (everyone), apply for an F-1 visa stamp (everyone except citizens of Canada), enter the U.S., and check-in with the Office of International Programs.

Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

All students must complete U.S. government form I-901 and pay the fee associated with this application. You must show your I-901 receipt when you apply for your visa and when you enter the U.S. Information on the I-901 SEVIS Fee can be found here.

Apply for Visa

All students, except citizens of Canada, must apply for an F-1 visa stamp at the U.S. embassy outside of the U.S. if they do not already have a valid F-1 visa stamp in their passport.

Enter the United States

Enter the U.S.

You may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date of your academic program, as listed in field #5 on the I-20. When you arrive in the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff will ask to see your passport, F-1 visa stamp (for everyone except citizens of Canada), I-20 form, proof of I-901 SEVIS fee payment, and financial documentation. The CBP officer will inspect your documents and then return them to you.

Check-in with UNCW Office of International Programs

All students in F-1 status must attend a mandatory check-in at the Office of International Programs (Friday Annex) within one week of their arrival in Wilmington, this is also done at International Student Orientation. This is a requirement of the Department of Homeland Security, thus failure to check in may jeopardize one's ability to remain legally in the U.S.

For check-in, please bring your passport and I-20 to the Office of International Programs. During this check-in, we will provide information on the various Welcome Events & Activities we have planned for you.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

Click here to read detailed information regarding how to apply for a social security number.

For questions, please call us at 910-962-3685 or email us at international@uncw.edu