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 you are a Canadian citizen coming to the United States to study full time you should obtain an I-20 certificate, although you are not required to get the visa stamp in your passport.

If you plan to be a full-time student at the Summer School and then attend another US school on an F-1 student visa in fall 2014, 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. 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. 

Read the instructions that apply to you:

  • I am coming to the United States to study full time at Harvard Summer School.

    If your primary reason for coming to the United States is to study and you will be enrolled full time at Harvard Summer School, then the F-1 student visa is the appropriate visa for you.

    You are a full-time student if either of the following applies:

    • You are enrolled in 8 undergraduate or graduate credits in general program courses that meet entirely on the Harvard campus for the entire seven-week session (that is, not study abroad programs, distance-only courses, or hybrid courses, or courses shorter than seven weeks).
    • You are enrolled in a noncredit, full-time intensive Institute for English Language (IEL) program.

    To apply for an F-1 student visa at a US consulate or embassy, you will first need to request an I-20 certificate from the Summer School.

    Visa processing times vary from country to country. You should complete your Summer School I-20 request early enough to ensure you receive your visa in time to arrive in Cambridge on June 21or 22. 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 3).
    • Or apply to a Summer School selective admissions program (the Secondary School Program, Secondary School Intensive English Language Program, the Ukrainian Summer Institute, or the Institute for English Language Programs Intensive English for Design program).

    The firm deadline to request an I-20 certificate and to meet all the requirements listed below is May 5. You will not be issued an I-20 if your request is not complete by May 5.

    Requirements for obtaining an I-20 certificate

    1. The following required documents have been received by Harvard Summer School:
      • Form F, fully completed and signed. After you complete an I-20 request online, you must print the page, sign it, and submit it to the Summer School. Completing Form F online is not sufficient to meet this requirement.
      • Copy of the identification page of your passport.
      • Transfer in to Harvard Form (if you are transferring to Harvard Summer School from another US school you are attending on an F-1 visa and to which you will not be returning in fall 2014) and copies of pages 1 and 3 of your most recent I-20.
      • Preliminary data sheet III (and supporting documentation) if spouse and/or children will come with you to the United States and will need their own visa documents.
        Submitting forms: All documents must be scanned and e-mailed to, faxed to (617) 998-8467, or mailed to Harvard Summer School, Registrar’s Office, 51 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
    2. You have been admitted to a selective admissions program (if you applied for such a program).
    3. You have registered for a full-time program of courses (as described above).
    4. You have met the English proficiency requirement if you are registering for general program courses (not English language) and English is not your native language.
    5. Your payment of the $50 nonrefundable registration fee and $1,500 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. 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 5 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 arrive and check in with a Harvard international student advisor during Opening Weekend, June 21 or 22.

    Enrollment requirements for students with I-20s

    You must remain enrolled full time in the program for which your I-20 was issued (either an IEL full-time intensive program or general program courses taken on campus for undergraduate or graduate credit). 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 2014.

    If your I-20 will expire or your program will end in spring 2014, 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 2014.

    If you are enrolled full-time in a program or school in the spring of 2014, 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 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 your local US consulate or embassy for information.

  • Unsure which instructions apply to you?

    Please contact us at 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.