Indiana University South Bend and the US Government are not the same.  Indiana University is authorized by the US government to issue F visa documents (I-20s) to international students.

IU must comply with certain US government regulations.  However, Indiana University and the Office of International Student Services (OISS) are not part of the US government.  OISS staff provides comprehensive information about US government visa requirements and can assist you in filing applications related to your student, scholar or employee status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The following paragraphs summarize important US regulations that affect international students and scholars.  We ask that you follow the guidelines presented to ensure that you maintain lawful status in the United States.  If you have questions about regulations, maintaining your status in the United States, or other concerns, please contact OISS at 574-520-4419,, or just stop by Administration Building 140 during our office hours (9–12 and 1–5, Monday through Friday).  We will be happy to answer your questions and provide any assistance we can!

Applying for a US Visa

Before you can enter the United States to study, you will need to obtain the proper visa.  You must apply for a US visa at a US Consulate or Embassy abroad (Canadians do not need a visa, only the I-20 in order to enter the US).  Generally, you should apply for the visa in your home country.  If you will apply for a visa for the first time, or will renew your expired visa, it is a good idea to check out the website of the US Embassy or Consulate that you will visit.  Because of required interviews and possible security checks, it may take some time to apply for and receive the visa.  Plan ahead and expect delays.

US Visas: An Overview

There are two broad categories of visas for those coming to the United States—“non-immigrant” and “immigrant.”  Any visa designated by a letter in front of a number (F-1, J-1, B-2,...) is a non-immigrant visa.  Anyone on a non-immigrant visa is restricted as to what he or she can and must do in the US, has a date by which he or she must leave the US or apply for further visa privileges, and for most categories must have a home outside the United States to which he or she intends to return.

Anyone on the immigrant visa (known also as the “green card,” permanent residence, P.R., I-551, alien resident), has permission to remain indefinitely in the United States and, generally speaking, has the same rights and privileges as a citizen, with the exception of voting and holding certain government jobs.  While permanent residents or immigrants can become citizens, there is no requirement that they do so and many prefer to keep their original citizenship and carry their home country passport.  It is possible to apply for US citizenship after 5 years as a permanent resident (3 years if married to a US citizen).

Most international students and their dependents are non-immigrants, holding one of the following visa statuses:

  • F-1:

    Visa status for individuals studying full-time at an authorized institution in the US.  F-1 visa holders carry a document called an I-20, issued by IU South Bend.

  • F-2:

    Visa status for spouses and children of F-1 visa holders.  F-2 visa holders will have their own I-20s and may study part-time, although they may not work.  The F-1’s information will also be included on the I-20.