Full-time students in the following ELP programs are eligible for F-1 student visas:

  • Intensive and Super-Intensive Programs
  • University Connection
  • Summer Institute for International Business Students
  • International Business Communication Program

Part-time students are not eligible for F-1 visas. The ELP does not issue visa documents for study in Evening Courses.

*If a student is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or from a visa waiver country, they do not need a visa for these programs.

How to Apply for a Student Visa for the ELP

Please apply for your F-1 student visa early. In some countries it can take several weeks to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy after you have received admission from the English Language Programs.

The Form I-20 is used by the student to apply for the F-1 student visa. The University of Pennsylvania issues the Form I-20 for study at the English language Programs. To obtain the I-20:

  1. Complete all sections of the enrollment form for the program in which you plan to study (see How to Apply).
  2. Send the enrollment form, enrollment fee and tuition deposit, the original financial documents requested in the enrollment form, and a photocopy of the page in your passport that shows your name and date of birth to the ELP.
  3. Upon receipt of these documents, the ELP will process and send an admission letter and the Form I-20 to you via courier service. Sign and date the Form I-20 when you receive it.
  4. Pay your SEVIS fee. For information about this fee, go to the US Department of Homeland Security website.


    Up-to-date information with new SEVIS regulations is located at:

  5. Submit the Form I-20, your admission letter, financial documents, passport, SEVIS receipt and any other required documentation (such as transcripts or academic records) to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country and apply for an F-1 student visa. We recommend contacting the embassy before your application to verify the embassy's specific policies and procedures. More information about a particular embassy may be found at www.usembassy.state.gov.
  6. Present the Form I-20 and your passport to the immigration officer when you arrive in the U.S. The officer will return your copy of the I-20 to you and will staple the Form I-94 in your passport.
  7. Bring the Form I-20, Form I-94 and your passport with you to the English Language Programs on registration/orientation day.
  8. If you have questions about your application, please contact the ELP.

** Please note: If you enter the U.S. using an I-20 from the University of Pennsylvania English Language Programs, you must complete the ELP program or session to which you have been admitted before you are eligible to transfer to another school or university.

Please visit the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website at http://global.upenn.edu/isss for more visa information and immigration updates.