Schools Cannot Issue I-20s for Conditional Students

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued final policy guidance on July 13, 2016, regarding foreign national students admitted on a tentative or conditional basis. In short, the guidance indicates that universities and schools are not permitted to issue I-20s for conditional students.


In order to request F-1 student status, the prospective student first must obtain an I-20 form from a qualified academic institution. This form is needed to request a change to F-1 status within the United States and/or to apply for a visa stamp at a consulate for admission to the U.S. as an F-1 student.

Conditional Admission not Sufficient for I-20

In the past, some schools have admitted certain students on a tentative or “conditional” basis. This occurred when the prospective student did not yet meet all of the school’s designated program standards. Thus, the individual would enter into an agreement with the school for gaining admission contingent upon the student’s taking certain steps to fulfill all the requirements. This type of conditional admission typically has occurred when a school has an English language competency requirement and the foreign national student is required to enroll in a language class either prior to or concurrently with the standard academic courses.

Rationale for New Policy Guidance

SEVP has determined that schools may no longer issue I-20s to prospective students who are to be admitted on a conditional basis. This is due largely to the attestations that must be signed by the designated school official (DSO) when an I-20 is issued. Amongst the required attestations is one that states that the official responsible for admission has accepted the student for enrollment into the program of study. Conditional students, however, have not actually been fully accepted into a school’s program.


The guidance, while clear and simple, makes no suggestion for facilitating study by international students who may need to complete a program of study or enhance English language skills. If such suggestions arise, MurthyDotCom will provide an update on this matter.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.