Issuance of the Form I-20/DS-2019

NC State University offers masters degrees in more than 100 different disciplines in one of 10 different colleges. Some curricula require research and the writing of a thesis while others are composed of coursework only. Some curricula require 2 years, some 3 years, and still others are designed to be completed in 1 academic year.

Foreign nationals will not be granted F-1 and J-1 visa documentation (the I-20 and DS-2019 respectively) based on admission to a Distance Education (DE) or On-line program. Additionally, it is a violation of status for an F-1 or J-1 student to change curriculum or major from a traditional course of study to a DE or On-line program after arrival to NC State University.

Sponsored F-1 and J-1 students are prohibited from enrolling in DE courses with or attending courses at NC State alternate sites of instruction, including but not limited to sites related to programs with the College of Education and the MBA program at Research Triangle Park. Any questions about international students and enrollment at alternate sites of instruction should be directed to the Office of International Services.

Most masters programs can be completed in 2 full academic years for students making normal progress and registering for a full course load. The institutional practice at NC State University is to issue a visa certificate (Form I-20) for the F-1 student visa for a period of 3 years which is enough time for practically all of the international master’s level students to complete their program. The length of study on the visa certificate is for 3 years, but the visa certificate is then shortened to the actual graduation (or thesis submission) date when the student is nearing completion.

Overseas applicants for graduate programs who are offered academic admission are asked to document the full amount of funding for the first year only and this is reflected on the Form I-20. Admitted students are then required to demonstrate this amount of funding when they submit the visa application at a US consulate overseas.

While it is not currently practical, given our current technical and resource limitations, for each I-20 form to be customized with different begin and end dates for more than a thousand different admitted students in many different programs, we have received confirmation from several departments that the master’s curricula in their departments do not require more than 4 semesters. An example would be those non-thesis programs in Computer Science or Electrical and Computer Engineering, where typical students complete in 3 or 4 semesters. Consular officials, CBP inspectors, bank and loan officers, etc., should not require students to document 3 full years of funding. Applicants who are asked about this can download a memo from OIS and submit it if requested. This information has been shared with visa offices at several US consulates overseas and any student who encounters difficulty on this issue is kindly asked to contact OIS.