What is required by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in order to issue a Certificate of Eligibility Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students)?
Financial Certificate (FC): completed by student. Note that a passport copy and proof of funding must be submitted with the FC. Please see our Financial Certificate page for details. Proof of Admission: In most cases, the admission office or graduate program will send us the letter of admission. Students only need to provide this if specifically requested. Additional documents may be needed for transfer students, students requesting a change of status, and other special circumstances. Check your email regularly this is how we will contact you if we need more information.
As early as possible. Most programs require the FC to be submitted with your admission application. However, if you are applying very early, the FC may not yet be posted. Please make sure to follow up with your respective admission office and submit the FC as soon as it is available. All certificates should be submitted to ISSS by June 30th for fall semester admission and November 1st for spring semester. Students who submit FCs after these dates will likely not be able to arrive in time to begin classes.
Details of accept documents are listed on each certificate.
In general, financial documents should be: be in English, have been issued within the last 6 months, clearly indicate the currency type (i.e. Euros, U.S. Dollars, Chinese Yuan, etc.), include the student’s name and, if applicable, the sponsoring person or organization’s name. Support letters should not use vague terms such as “a generous stipend” or “enough to cover living expenses”; letters should specify numeric amounts for example, “will provide $1000 per month”. Documents must be official: signed, dated and when applicable, on official letterhead. Electronic print outs of bank statements from on-line accounts will not be accepted.
Yes. We can revise the funding after the initial Form I-20 or DS-2019 is issued. If you expect University funding such as a scholarship or assistantship, you may indicate the expected amount on the “Sources of Funding”.
Please note that ISSS will not approve an I-20 until the funding has been officially awarded.
Students should provide proof of all sources of available funds in this situation in case the funding is not offered early enough to get your Form I-20/DS-2019 and/or visa or if the funding does not cover all the expected expenses.
Graduate students should check with their department regarding their department’s specific policies.
Many departments cannot offer funding to all or to any students; some require a student to be enrolled in their program at least a semester before offering funding; some offer partial funding; and funding can vary by academic year.
The student services manager in the graduate program should be able to provide information about the funding his or her department can offer. It is safest to present alternate sources of funding if you are uncertain.
Most documents for fall semester are mailed during April, May and early June. Because ISSS processes for hundreds of students, we review all documents in the order they are received.
Typical processing time is 2-3 weeks from the date ISSS receives completed documents. Financial Certificates missing items such as a passport copy or funding documents may take longer than 2-3 weeks.
If ISSS contacts you with a request for additional information regarding your Financial Certificate, please follow the directions carefully to help ensure timely processing of your Form I-20 or DS-2019.
Please check your e-mail for notifications!
It is our goal to process everyone’s immigration documents as quickly as possible while also maintaining the accuracy and compliance required by the federal government.
U.S. embassies do not accept visa appointments more than four months prior to the start date of the academic program.
As indicated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations regarding “Aliens and Nationality”, the school must obtain reliable documentation of the student’s ability to cover the estimated cost of attendance before issuing a Certificate of Eligibility Form I-20 or DS-2019.
In order to comply with this federal regulation, UNC-Chapel Hill has developed a policy resulting in the creation of a financial certificate which all international students must complete.
International students that are not requesting an immigration document for F-1 or J-1 status from UNC-Chapel Hill are not required to submit proof of funding; however, they are required to fill out Part I (Biographical and Immigration Information) of the Financial Certificate and submit a copy of their current immigration documents so that ISSS may update the University system (ConnectCarolina).
ISSS does not expedite the processing of immigration documents; we process all documents in the order we receive them. It is our goal to assist students as quickly as possible; however ISSS must prepare the immigration documents accurately so as to maintain compliance with U.S. immigration laws.
Carefully review the Financial Certificate (FC), follow the instructions, and submit the FC as early as possible.
Express mail via E-ship global is an option to expedite mailing (at the student’s expense) once the documents are ready.
I am already in the U.S. in another immigration status other (such as H4 or L2) and I am NOT requesting F-1 or J-1 status. Do I still need to complete financial certificate?
Yes. You must complete the biographical and immigration information on page one of the form. Please see our section for students in statuses other than F-1/J-1.
Complete the appropriate UNC-CH Financial Certificate. ISSS is legally required to verify funding, even if you already have done this with another school.
A Transfer Clearance form must be completed by you and your current International Student Advisor. Consult with your current international student office to determine your eligibility for transfer and to decide on the effective date of transfer to UNC-CH. Please see our transfer procedures page. Your current school may have transfer-out procedures in addition to UNC-CH’s requirements for transferring in.
I am currently in the U.S. in a another immigration status such as H4, L2 or E3. I am interested in changing my status to F-1 or J-1. What are the options and procedures for changing my status?
There are two options to apply for F-1 or J-1 status: 1) traveling outside of the U.S. to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy and re-entering in F-1 or J-1 status. 2) filing an application (Form I-539) within the United States with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Please see Change of Status for more details about these procedures.
1) Check in with ISSS before classes begin and
2) Attend International Student Orientation. For complete details see the orientation section.
On-campus housing: see Housing and Residential Education
Off-campus housing: The Dean of Student’s Office has a guide on their website for Off-Campus Services.
Housing and Residential Education’s Off-Campus Housing List.
The Graduate and Professional Student Federation’s Resource Guide covers housing options.
There are other online services and websites; however, please be careful about giving out private information online or signing leases in advance.
Review the Dean of Student’s guide listed above and check with Student Legal Services if you have concerns.
Additional information can be found on our website for New Students.