Visa and I-20 Guidelines

Please read the following information to determine your immigration status and the requirements that need to be met to obtain an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for the F-1 student visa to attend Harvard Summer School.

If your main reason for coming to the United States is to attend a Harvard Summer School session on campus, and you will be registered for:

  • a total of 8 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in the 7-week session, or
  • 4 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in a 3-week session

then the F-1 student visa is the appropriate visa for you. To be issued the F-1 student visa, you must first obtain the I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from Harvard Summer School. See the requirements for obtaining an I-20 in the first tab below and request an I-20 certificate if applicable.

If your main reason for visiting the United States is tourism and you will not be registered for courses as specified above, see visa guidelines in the last tab below.

Canadian students: if you will be enrolled in courses as specified above, you should request an I-20 certificate. However, you are not required to obtain a visa stamp in your passport for entry into the US.

Read the instructions that apply to you:

  • I am coming to the United States to attend a Harvard Summer School session held on the Harvard campus and will be registered for:
    • a total of 8 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in the 7-week session, or
    • 4 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in a 3-week session

    The F-1 student visa is the appropriate visa for you.To be issued the F-1 student visa, you must first obtain the I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from Harvard Summer School.

    Visa processing times vary from country to country. You should meet the I-20 requirements early enough to ensure you can obtain your visa from a US consulate or embassy in time to arrive in Cambridge for the start of your Summer School session. Note that the Summer School may prohibit or cancel your registration if you do not attend all class meetings during the first week of classes.

    You can request an I-20 certificate online from Harvard Summer School when you:

    • Register for courses (beginning March 2), or
    • Apply to a Summer School selective admissions program (the Secondary School Program or the Ukrainian Summer Institute).

    The firm deadline to request an I-20 certificate and to meet all the requirements is May 4. You will not be issued an I-20 if your request is not complete by May 4.

    Requirements for obtaining an I-20 certificate:

    1. The following required documents have been received by Harvard Summer School:
      • Your online I-20 request.
      • A copy of the biographical page of your passport (e-mail to visas@dcemail.harvard.edu or fax to 617-998-8467).
      • If you are transferring to Harvard Summer School from another school in the US where you are attending on an F-1 visa and to which you will not be returning in the fall, a completed Transfer-Into-Harvard form, copies of pages one and three of your most recent I-20, and a copy of your I-94 electronic arrival record (e-mail to visas@dcemail.harvard.edu or fax to 617-998-8467).
      • If your spouse and/or child(ren) will come with you to the United States, a copy of the biographical page of each dependent's passport.
    2. You have been admitted to a selective admissions program (if you applied for such a program).
    3. You have registered for a total of 8 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in the 7-week session, or for 4 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in a 3-week session, in courses held on the Harvard campus (no Study Abroad, distance-only or hybrid courses allowed).
    4. You have met the English proficiency requirement if English is not your native language.
    5. Your payment of the $50 nonrefundable registration fee and $1500 deposit toward your total Summer School charges has been received by the Summer School.

    When you will receive your I-20 certificate

    It takes three to four weeks for the Summer School to process your I-20 request once you meet all requirements. Starting on March 3, you can check the status of your I-20 request by logging in to online services. Once the I-20 certificate has been mailed, a link to your FedEx tracking number will be provided there.

    If you are transferring to Harvard Summer School from another school in the United States, note that if you meet all of your I-20 certificate requirements by the May 4 deadline, your Harvard I-20 will be issued after the program completion date specified by your current school on your completed Transfer In to Harvard form.

    Checking in upon arrival

    If you have an I-20 from the Summer School, you must check in with a Harvard international student advisor during your session’s specified arrival and check-in dates.

    Enrollment requirements for students with I-20s

    You must remain enrolled for a total of 8 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in the 7-week session, or 4 undergraduate (UN) or graduate (GR) credits in a 3-week session, in courses held on the Harvard campus. If you do not comply with this requirement, you are considered out of status and are subject to removal from the United States.

    If you have an I-20 from the Summer School, you may add courses in online services but may not drop or withdraw from courses or change credit status online. You must submit all course drops or withdrawals, even those that are part of course changes, with the course registration changes and Summer School housing cancellation form to the Registrar’s Office for approval.

  • I am currently studying in the United States on an F-1 visa with another program or school and will not return to that program or school in fall 2015.

    If your I-20 will expire or your program will end in spring 2015, request an I-20 from Harvard Summer School for your summer study. See above for request guidelines.

  • I am currently studying in the United States on an F-1 visa with another program or school and intend to return to the same program or school in fall 2015.

    If you are enrolled full-time in a program or school in the spring of 2015, and you will be enrolled in the same program in the fall, you do not need to request a new I-20 from Harvard Summer School and may enroll either part-time or full-time during the summer.

  • I am planning to attend another school in the United States on an F-1 visa in fall 2015.

    If you plan to be enrolled in courses as specified above and then attend another school in the US on an F-1 visa in fall 2015, you should request an I-20 certificate from the Summer School and enter the United States on an F-1 student visa in June for your studies at Harvard Summer School. See above for request guidelines. You may transfer to the new school within the 60-day grace period following the program completion date specified on your Harvard I-20 certificate by submitting transfer-out documentation to the Harvard International Office.

  • I will be traveling in the United States this summer and want to take a course.

    B-2 visas are for people whose main reason for visiting the United States is tourism. However, the US government has advised that a casual, short-term class that is not the primary purpose of the visitor’s presence in the United States may be appropriate for the B-2 visa category. The B-2 tourist and B-1 business visas are not appropriate for students who will enroll in full-time study.

    Visa-waiver program: Many countries are part of a visa-waiver program. Citizens of these countries may travel to the United States as tourists without obtaining visa stamps. The rules regarding study are the same as for the B-2 visa; full-time study is not appropriate. If you enter the United States under the visa-waiver program, you may be admitted for a 90-day period and cannot change your visa status or extend your stay. Check with you local US consulate or embassy for information.

  • Unsure which instructions apply to you?

    Please contact us at visas@dcemail.harvard.edu and we will be happy to help you with your questions.

    And visit these US Department of State webpages: visa type information, list of embassies, and the visa waiver program.