Please choose a topic below:
Receiving I-20s/DS-2019s, Transferring to USC and Applying for the Visa

Which USC office will issue my I-20?

If you have been admitted to an academic, on-campus graduate program, your I-20 will be issued by the Office of Graduate Admission. If you have been admitted to a program within the USC International Academy, their office will issue the documentation. Students admitted to short-term and exchange programs will receive their documentation from the Office of International Services.

When will I receive my I-20 or DS-2019?

For admitted students who are currently residing outside of the United States, an I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued to you two business days after you submit your Statement of Intent form on youSC. Please allow five to seven business days for the delivery of your package. You should receive a DHL tracking number via email once your package is shipped. (If your documents are being shipped to an address within the United States, you will receive a tracking number from FedEx.) The address entered on your Statement of Intent form is the address we will use to mail your documents. Please ensure that it is current.

Admitted students currently residing in the United States on an F-1 visa will receive instructions for transferring their SEVIS record to USC. Note: An I-20 cannot be issued to you before your current institution transfers your active SEVIS record to USC.

Can I pick up my I-20 myself?

Yes. Please submit a request through our Contact form. You will be notified when your I-20 is ready for pick-up at the USC Admission Center in the Tutor Campus Center (TCC), Room 202. Pick-up hours are Monday through Thursday, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Please wait to receive your email notification before going to the USC Admission Center.

Can my friend or family member pick up my I-20?

Yes. Please submit a request through our Contact form by providing your name and USC ID number, along with the name of the person who will be picking up the I-20, their phone number and email address. They will be asked to show identification when picking up your document.

I am an international student currently attending another U.S. university and have been accepted to USC. How do I get an I-20 from USC?

For F-1 students, please contact your current institution and ask them to electronically release your SEVIS record to USC. USC’s SEVIS code is LOS214F00291000. We do not require any transfer-in forms and we do not sign or fill out transfer-out forms. You will be notified when we have begun processing your I-20. Note that your SEVIS record must be received before we can issue an I-20.

For students transferring their SEVIS record to USC, please ensure your international student advisor selects the general “University of Southern California” option, NOT the “USC International Academy,” “Marshall School of Business – San Diego,” or “Health Sciences Campus.”

Why does my new USC I-20 say “Transfer Pending” on it?

“Transfer Pending” I-20s are issued to students whose SEVIS records have been released to USC, but who have not yet reported to USC. No other I-20 is available to SEVIS-transfer students who have not yet reported to USC. To complete the transfer process, students must sign up for Passport Verification with the Office of International Services within 15 days of the start date of their USC I-20.

Note: The “Transfer Pending” status allows you to leave and re-enter the United States. You must use USC’s I-20 when re-entering the U.S.

I am an international student currently on OPT and have been accepted to USC. How do I transfer my I-20 to USC?

F-1 students should contact their current institution and ask them to electronically release your SEVIS record to USC. Please be advised that you will immediately lose your OPT status once your record is released to USC, so please plan your transfer date accordingly.

USC’s SEVIS code is LOS214F00291000. We do not require any transfer-in forms and we do not sign or fill out transfer-out forms.

I am a current student who will graduate from USC or who is on post-completion OPT through USC and has been accepted to another program. Do I need a new I-20?

Yes, you will need a Change of Education Level I-20 for your new program, with new dates, which will be issued to you after you have submitted your Statement of Intent form on youSC.

 How do I obtain an I-20 for my family members?

On your application, please be sure to list any family members (spouses and children only) you intend to bring to USC with you. I-20s for dependent F-2 visas are issued at the same time as the F-1 I-20. Adding dependents after you have submitted your Statement of Intent may delay the issuance of the new I-20(s).

 I am expecting a child. How do I get an I-20 for my infant?

You must submit valid passport copies for all children, including infants and newborns (if the baby is expected to be born prior to travel to the United States). They will be required to receive a dependent I-20 or DS-2019 and have a separate F-2 or J-2 visa on their passport. If your child is born after you arrive in the U.S., please request your child’s I-20 from the Office of International Services by following these instructions.

Once my I-20 is issued, can you email me a scanned copy? (key words: soft copy, electronic copy)

The Office of Admission does not send I-20 or DS-2019 scans or other sensitive SEVIS information electronically. All documents will be sent by courier only.

Will my I-20 be valid for the next admission cycle if I cannot attend USC this year?

SEVIS records auto-cancel after 60 days without enrollment. If you are admitted to a later term, you will receive a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number. You will need to repay the SEVIS fee for your new SEVIS record.

The major on my I-20 does not match the program I am admitted to. What should I do?

The SEVIS system contains a fixed number of majors that occasionally do not match the exact program name. The option that most closely matches the USC program name is selected in SEVIS and used on the I-20. U.S. consular and immigration officers are aware of this and we do not expect that you will have any issues with this at your visa interview. The name of your major at USC is the one reflected on your letter of admission.

When can I apply for a student visa?

Once you have received your I-20, you may apply for a student visa no more than 120 days in advance of your program start date.

Can I have a hard copy admission letter mailed to me for my visa interview?

No hard copy letters can be issued from the USC Office of Graduate Admission. The only admission letter issued by the Office of Graduate Admission is available on youSC. You are welcome to print a copy of your letter to take with you to the visa interview.

I am a citizen of Canada. Do I need a student visa to study at USC?

You will not need to appear for an interview or obtain a visa stamp. However, you will need to enter the U.S. with a valid I-20. Please be sure to present your I-20 to customs officers to ensure you enter the U.S. with a student, rather than tourist, status.


Next Steps for Newly Admitted Students

When can I enter the U.S. with my USC I-20?

You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. The exact date when you may enter is printed on Page 1 under “Earliest Admission Date.”

What do I need to do once I arrive in Los Angeles?

Please review the information on the Office of International Services website regarding arrival procedures for incoming students, particularly regarding New Student Orientation, Passport Verification (PPV) and Enrollment.

My visa is being delayed by Administrative Processing. Can USC help me obtain my visa more quickly?

Unfortunately, administrative processing is strictly determined by the Department of State and USC cannot assist in expediting your visa issuance. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. Some visa applications require more administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. The U.S. Consulate or Embassy processing visa applications reserves the right to determine the duration of administrative processing. Please visit this link to check your U.S. visa application status:

Students whose visa applications require administrative processing should inform their academic department, advisors and/or professors about the delay. If administrative processing is taking much longer than expected, students can consider updating their admission start term and discuss this with their academic department.

When can I register for classes? 

Incoming international students must arrive at USC and attend Passport Verification (PPV) with the Office of International Services before they are eligible to enroll.

What can I do if my I-20 was lost or stolen?

If you have not yet arrived at USC, you may request that the Office of Graduate Admission reissue you the I-20. Please submit a request through our Contact form.

 I received my visa late. Can you change the start date on my I-20?

Unfortunately, start dates on I-20s are set by the program, so we are unable to change them on a case-by-case basis.

Entry to the U.S. after the program start date is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the Port of Entry Officer at the airport, as well as the USC academic department. In general, a student cannot arrive more than one week after classes start and must be enrolled full-time for that semester. Students who are not able to enter the U.S. by the program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019 must contact their academic department to request a late-arrival permission letter.

Students who may be more than one week late may need to work with their academic department to defer their attendance to the next semester.

How do I verify my previous degree(s) if my admission letter says I’m required to?

Admitted graduate students must provide verification of a bachelor’s degree earned from a regionally accredited institution in the United States, or an equivalent foreign degree. If your degree could not be verified during the initial admission review process, it will need to be verified before the end of your first term at USC.

The Office of Degree Progress is in charge of the verification process. If you hold an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution, you may verify your degree by bringing a final, official transcript to Degree Progress, located in Trojan Hall (TRO 101). The transcript must specify the degree(s) conferred, date(s) of conferral, and be enclosed in the sealed, original envelope with security marks intact.

For students who hold degrees from institutions outside the United States, Degree Progress accepts only verifications processed through the International Education Research Foundation (IERF). For detailed information on how to obtain an IERF verification report, please refer to the Degree Progress website.

My admission letter says I need to take the ISE Exam. What is this?

The International Student English (ISE) Examination is a placement examination that determines the English proficiency of admitted international students. It is administered by USC’s American Language Institute during International Orientation. Your ISE Exam results will determine if you need to enroll in ALI courses concurrently with or before your regular graduate enrollment. There is no charge for the ISE.

What does it mean if my admission letter says I have been admitted “without advanced standing”?

Students admitted without advanced standing are not eligible to receive graduate transfer credit for their previous studies.

When should I arrive at USC?

When scheduling your travel plans, please keep in mind:

U.S. immigration regulations state that new students entering on an F-1 or J-1 student visa can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 calendar days prior to the program start date, as stated on the SEVIS I-20/DS-2019. For new F-1 students, this reporting date is indicated on Section #5 of the I-20. For J-1 students, the program start date is indicated on Section #3 on the DS-2019.

You should make sure you arrive early enough to participate in International Student Orientation.

Graduate students living in USC housing should contact USC Housing directly to ask about the possibility of moving in early.

Does USC have an orientation program for international students?

Yes, international students must attend Orientation prior to registering for classes. For more information, please visit the Office of Orientation website.

Would I be able to receive transfer credit for a graduate program I was in enrolled in overseas?

Transfer credit from other graduate programs is possible but not guaranteed. After you are admitted and enroll at USC, you may request a transfer credit evaluation from the Office of Degree Progress. Coursework is subject to the approval of both your USC academic department and the Office of Graduate Admission (if the courses were taken outside the United States). You are not eligible for graduate transfer credit if you have been admitted without advanced standing.

Please note: We do not conduct pre-admission transfer credit evaluations for prospective graduate applicants.

Does USC offer special services for international students?

Yes. Please visit the Office of International Services website for more information.

Communicating with USC

How do I contact USC if I have further questions?

You are welcome to email our office with any questions regarding general admission policies and procedures. If you have specific questions about your intended program of study, we recommend you contact the program directly. Please keep in mind that during our peak admission season (November-April) our office receives hundreds of messages every week, so it may take us five to seven business days to respond to emails.

I am unable to attend any of the scheduled campus tours. How can I familiarize myself with USC? 

We encourage prospective students to visit USC, even if they are unable to attend one of our on-campus information sessions. A campus visit will give you the opportunity to tour the campus and schedule meetings with departmental representatives (if available). We have created a downloadable guide (in PDF format) that will introduce you to our campus, its landmarks, traditions and academic programs. To access it, click here.

How do I meet with an admission or program representative from USC?

In addition to our Spotlight: USC events, a graduate admission officer is on call at the campus Admission Center, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time, Monday through Thursday. All in-person counseling is walk-in only and subject to staff availability. Additionally, USC graduate departments may be available to meet with prospective graduate applicants (though availability may vary). Please contact your intended graduate department or school for details.

Do you offer information sessions or recruitment events for prospective graduate applicants?

Yes. We strongly encourage applicants in the Los Angeles area to attend one of our Spotlight: USC sessions, which are held on-campus during the fall semester. In addition, the Office of Graduate Admission also participates in a number of off-campus events for prospective graduate applicants. For more information, please visit our Learn About USC page.

How do I get help with technical issues?

  • USC CAS Application: On the bottom left corner of your application you will find the Instructions and FAQs and Contact Us Please review the instructions and FAQs before requesting help via email. If you are unable to find what you need, please send your CAS ID, the school to which you are applying, and a brief description of your issue to or call (857) 304-2092 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
  • youSC: For technical issues related to youSC, please refer to our youSC FAQ

How do I let you know if my personal information (such as mailing address, telephone number, email address) has changed?

If your application is in progress, please use the directions in the Biographical Information section to make the necessary changes.

If you have already submitted your application, be sure to update it AND contact us directly.

How do I check the status of my application?

Because of the high volume of materials we process, we do not send confirmation emails when specific items have been received. We will contact you only if we need to request additional materials. To ensure that you have submitted a complete application, please refer to our checklists.

Please review this video tutorial to navigate the application status verification process.

The Notification status page on your application will include the following updates:

  • Receipt of transcripts uploaded to the application.
  • Receipt of official GRE and TOEFL scores.
  • Receipt of recommendation letters.

You may contact us via email to check the following:

  • Receipt of official (mailed or electronic) transcripts.
  • Receipt of GMAT, IELTS and PTE scores.
  • Status of your application.

Graduate admission staff are also available via Skype from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time, Monday-Thursday. Please add graduate.admissions.usc to your contact list.

Frequently Asked