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How To Apply For An I-20/F-1 Visa

Thomas Jefferson School of Law international students bring unique life experiences to the educational experience. The Admissions Office along with the Office of the President & General Counsel works with its international students to ensure they have the necessary immigration information to enroll at the Law School.

Requesting an I-20 for F-1 Student Status

International students are required to obtain an I-20 document to study in the United States. The law school will only issue the I-20 after an individual has been admitted. Upon receipt of an “offer of admission letter” from our Admissions Office, the Office of the President & General Counsel works directly with each student to communicate the information needed to support the request for an I-20 document. The admission letter will disclose the financial obligations for studying at the law school. Students should be prepared to provide financial records that demonstrate the ability to finance their studies in the United States.

Please note: F-1 students must maintain full-time status throughout their law school career.

I-20 Document

The I-20 document supports the F-1 student status. This form is very important and should be treated similarly to a passport. This document will be needed when making an appointment for a visa to enter the country, as well as when arriving into the United States. Upon receipt of the I-20, students should carefully review it to ensure accurate information (name, birth date, and all other information). If there is a discrepancy, please notify the Student Services Office immediately. Please Note: F-1 students may enter the country 30 days prior to the start of classes, as indicated on your I-20 document.

Visa Appointments

Non-resident aliens and non-U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa prior to entering the United States. However, Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa prior to entering the country. Students who are not Canadian citizens should contact the United States Consulate Office within their home country for more information. Visa appointment times can vary; therefore, it is recommended that students make an appointment as soon as possible. For information regarding the nearest Consulate Office, go to: This website will also provide you with information on what documents are needed for the appointment, as well as the wait time for an appointment at the Consulate Office in the student’s home country. Prior to the meeting at the Consulate’s Office, students will need to pay fee I-901, which can be paid online at There may be additional fees assessed for the visa application as each country is different; therefore, please check the Consulate website stated above for further information.

VISA Application Required Documents: :

  • A valid passport (six months remaining)
  • An I-20
  • Proof of funding (bank statements, letters of support, etc.)
  • Photographs for the Visa
  • Payment of Visa application fees
  • Visa application forms (D-156, D-157, and D-158 as required)
  • Payment of I-901

Once issued, the visa will be stamped into the student’s passport. The visa has an expiration date that indicates the period of time the student can enter the United States.

Entering the United States

Students are required to go through United States immigration and customs inspection when entering the United States. All documents will be reviewed by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. The I-20 document will be stamped and an I-94 form will be issued. The I-94 document will indicate the date of entry, your status in the United States, and the day you will leave the United States. It is extremely important that your I-20 and I-94 stamps reflect your F-1 status; therefore, please check the documents prior to leaving the United States Customs area. If your stamp reflects any other status (such as visitor) notify the CBP immediately so that the documents can be corrected.

Orientation and Checking in at Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Once you are settled in San Diego, make an appointment with the Office of the President & General Counsel to set up your school check-in. Check-in appointments will include welcoming you to the campus, completing your international student file, registering you in the SEVIS website, providing information on maintaining your F-1 status and orienting you to beautiful San Diego, CA. Students are also required to attend the law school’s orientation, about which the Admissions Office will mail information to each student.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is designed to provide students with additional educational opportunities through externships. Students interested in pursuing an externship for CPT should contact the Office of the President & General Counsel.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is designed to provide work experience to students in the legal community. This experience can be received in school or after degree completion. Students interested in OPT should contact the Office of the President & General Counsel for further information.