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Summer 2022: Coronavirus Information

Harvard Summer School sponsors F-1 student visas for international students enrolling full time for credit in courses on campus. Before applying for a student visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad, international students must request a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status from Harvard Summer School.

  • Please note that your signature MUST be a physical signature on a printed I-20; the Harvard International Office’s signature will be electronic which at this time is acceptable to the US government. 

Requirements for Requesting a Form I-20 at Harvard Summer School 

To begin the Form I-20 request process from Harvard Summer School, you must be an international student registered full-time 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, or
  • one 4-credit capstone course during the seven-week session, for admitted Harvard Extension School degree candidates only

Courses must be held on the Harvard campus. Online only, web conference, online with required on-campus weekend courses, waitlisted, conditionally registered, pending prerequisites, and Study Abroad courses do NOT meet the I-20 requirements. 

Harvard Extension School admitted degree candidates: Courses with the “on campus or online” format meet the enrollment requirements for a Form I-20; however, they do not count toward the Harvard Extension School degree program on-campus requirements. International students must elect to participate in the on-campus format for these courses to be eligible for the I-20. 

See Choosing a Credit Status for more information on credit and noncredit study options.

International students who meet the above criteria will receive an email 1 business day following their summer registration to begin the process of submitting the necessary documents for their Form I-20 Application. Students who do not receive this email should contact visas@summer.harvard.edu to identify how to become I-20 eligible as it is the student’s responsibility to obtain the Form I-20.  The deadline to register in I-20 eligible courses AND submit all necessary documents is May 2, 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Form I-20 and do I need to obtain one?

If you are an international student coming to the United States to attend a Harvard Summer School session on campus and you will be enrolled full time in undergraduate or graduate credit courses, you must obtain a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility (see sample) from Harvard Summer School and apply for an F-1 student visa (see sample) at a US embassy or consulate in your home country for your entry to the United States. 

The Form I-20 is required for an F-1 visa application, interview, and for entry into the United States in F-1 student status. Because visa appointment wait times and visa processing times vary from country to country, you should meet and submit the I-20 requirements (outlined below) early enough to ensure you can obtain your visa from a US embassy or consulate 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. 

Canadian students: You are not required to obtain an F-1 visa stamp in your passport for entry into the United States. Instead, you will present your I-20, a valid passport, and your I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt at the port of entry.

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, 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.

What documents do I need to submit to obtain the Form I-20?

Requirements for Obtaining an I-20: 

  • You must meet the enrollment requirements outlined above. 
  • You must have met the English proficiency requirement if English is not your native language to register for courses. 
  • Complete the I-20 Questionnaire emailed to international students registered in qualifying on-campus courses. 
  • Note: It will take at least 1 business day following registration before you receive this email. If you have not received this questionnaire but believe you should be able to apply for the Form I-20, please email visas@summer.harvard.edu 
  • Following submission of the questionnaire, submit all required documents through the document upload portal, including: 
    • A clear copy of the biographical page of your passport; 
    • Copies of required financial documentation; 
    • If your spouse and/or child(ren) will come with you to the United States, a picture of the valid biographical page of each dependent’s passport. 

If you are transferring to Harvard Summer School from another school in the United States where you are attending on an F-1 visa and to which you will not be returning in the fall, also submit:   

  • Completed Harvard Transfer In Form  
  • Copies of all pages of your most recent I-20, and  
  • Copy of your most recent I-94 electronic arrival record 
  • If your spouse and/or child(ren) will come with you to the United States, a picture of the valid biographical page of each dependent’s passport. 

What documentation is required to fulfill the financial documentation requirement?

Students must complete the Certification of Finances document with all necessary information and any necessary Financial Sponsorship Certification forms by uploading your documents using only the link to our portal provided in the email notification you’ll receive.

All declarations of financial support must: 

  1. Reflect the minimum amount of support in U.S. dollars; 
  2. Specify funding for study at Harvard University or Harvard Summer School (not another college or university); 
  3. Include a date and be no more than one year old from the intended date of enrollment; 
  4. Indicate the period for which the support will be provided; 
  5. Be written in English; 
  6. Reflect funds that are readily available for tuition payments (i.e., checking or savings accounts). Certain investment accounts such as stocks, salary documents, property holdings, etc. do not reflect available funds and will not be accepted. 

If the prospective student will be self-funded or in a manner not listed below, they must submit an official bank letter or bank statement indicating the availability of funding to support minimum estimated expenses.

If the student will be funded by a family member, they must submit: 

  1. A completed Financial Sponsorship Certification Form  
  2. An official bank letter or bank statement stating the availability of funding to support minimum estimated expenses. 

If the prospective student will be funded by their government, an organization, a company, etc., the sponsor must submit a signed letter of sponsorship on official letterhead which states: 

  1. The funding is valid specifically for Harvard University or Harvard Summer School. 
  2. Exactly which expenses will be covered (i.e., academic fees, living expenses, health insurance, financial support for family members, travel, etc.). 
  3. The length of the financial support. 

If the prospective student will be funded by a bank loan, they must submit an official letter of certification from the lending institution indicating the specific amount for which they have been guaranteed.

When will I receive my Form I-20?

It takes three to four weeks for the Summer School to process your I-20 request after you meet all requirements. 

You can continue to use the same webpage where you uploaded your documents to review the status of your request.  

Once the Form I-20 has been emailed, print all pages of your I-20, and physically sign the “Student Attestation” section of the document. Electronic signatures are NOT accepted for student signatures.

When is the deadline for requesting the Form I-20?

The firm deadline to request an I-20 and to meet all the requirements will be May 2nd, 2022. You will not be issued an I-20 if your request is not complete by the deadline, so we urge you to start the process early 

If you are transferring to Harvard Summer School from another school in the United States, note that if you meet all your I-20 requirements, your Harvard I-20 will be issued after the SEVIS transfer release date specified by your current school on your completed Harvard Transfer In Form.

How do I apply for an F-1 visa after receiving an I-20 from Harvard Summer School?

First, make sure that your biographical information on your I-20 is correct. If it is not, inform the Summer School staff immediately so the information can be corrected. Before entering the United States, you will need to obtain a US visa stamp at a US embassy or consulate abroad, preferably in your country of citizenship. 

To schedule an appointment at a US embassy or consulate, follow the instructions on the website of the US embassy or consulate you will visit. You can view visa appointment wait times by city here. Also review the list of required documents listed on the F-1 visa category section of the specific embassy or consulate’s website 

The visa application will require, among other things: 

  • I-20 from Harvard Summer School; 
  • Valid passport; 
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee* payment receipt 
  • Documents showing your financial support while at Harvard 

*The SEVIS fee ($350) is a US government fee paid to the Department of Homeland Security. All applicants who require an F-1 visa to enter the United States must pay the SEVIS fee before going to a US embassy or consulate for their visa interview. It can be paid online at http://www.FMJfee.com by using a credit or debit card, or by alternate means detailed on that same site. Harvard’s school code needed to pay the SEVIS fee is: BOS214F00162000. 

Allow ample time to obtain your visa. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visa appointment wait times and processing may be delayed in general. Also, the US Department of State has indicated that the process of issuing visas to some individuals might be longer due to security clearances. This is known as administrative processing. Please check with the US embassy or consulate at which you will apply for your F-1 visa for its specific processing times. 

Canadian citizens are not required to have US visas but must have an I-20 and I-901 SEVIS Fee payment receipt with them for entry to the United States. 

Dependents (spouse and unmarried children aged 21 or younger) must have their own original I-20s from Harvard Summer School and must apply for F-2 visas (except for Canadians) at a US embassy or consulate abroad. A dependent may travel to the United States with you or independently after your arrival to the United States. 

Verify accuracy. After you receive your passport with your visa and your I-20, check to make sure that all the information printed on the visa is correct immediately. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is incorrect, please contact the US embassy or consulate that issued you the visa as soon as possible. 

How can I attend Harvard Summer School if I have an I-20 from another institution in the United States?

  • If you are enrolled full time in a program or school in the spring, and you will be enrolled in the same institution 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. 
  • If you are currently in the United States on an F-1 visa and your I-20 will expire or your program will end in the spring, you should request an I-20 from Harvard Summer School for your summer study. Follow the steps outlined in “What documents do I need to submit to obtain the Form I-20?” above. 
  • If you plan to attend another school in the United States on an F-1 visa in the fall, you should request and obtain an I-20 from the Summer School and enter the US on an F-1 student visa 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 by submitting transfer-out documentation to the Harvard International Office. 
  • If you have attended Harvard Summer School in the past, you need to request a new I-20 from Harvard Summer School. If your visa stamp is expired, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa. If you have an unexpired visa stamp, please contact visas@summer.harvard.edu to obtain further advising. Follow the steps outlined in “What documents do I need to submit to obtain the Form I-20?” above to obtain a new I-20. 

How can I use another visa to study at Harvard Summer School?

B-2 Visas and Visa Waiver (Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA) 

Neither ESTA nor the B-2 visa allow for credit study, either full-time or part-time. ESTA and B-2 visas are only for international travelers whose main reason for visiting the United States is tourism. 

If you intend to pursue full or part-time study for credit at Harvard Summer School, do not attempt to enter the United States on either ESTA or the B-2 visa. 

Attention Pre-College Program participants only: US immigration regulations prohibit enrollment in a course of study as a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant. If the program is deemed recreational or avocational in nature, the US Department of State/US Embassy may decide to grant a B-2 visa for those applicants who are coming to the US primarily for tourism, who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study during their visit. However, it is completely up to the US embassy to grant such a visa. 

Attempting to enter the United States in ESTA or the B-2 visa status to earn credit is a violation of US immigration regulations, and you may risk being denied entry to the United States. This is true for non-degree students as well as admitted Harvard Extension School degree candidates. 

What do I do if I have a different visa not mentioned above?

Additional Types of US Visas 

Many other types of US visas allow study incidental to the primary status, such as the A, J-1, J-2, F-2, H-1B, H-4, L, TN, and others. 

If you are currently in the United States on one of the above visa categories, please check with your visa sponsoring organization on the limitations for your study. 

I’m not sure what information applies to me. What do I do?

Please contact us at visas@summer.harvard.edu, and we will be happy to help you with your questions. Please allow up to 3 business days to respond to your inquiries. 

You can find additional resources on these US Department of State pages: 

What should I know before I leave for the U.S.?

Review the following resources and frequently asked questions to prepare you for arrival in the United States and starting Harvard Summer School. 

Campus & Boston area resources: 

When departing for the United States, be sure to keep the following in your carry-on and be prepared to show to Customs & Border Protection: 

  • Valid passport with valid visa stamp (except Canadians, who are not required to receive the F-1 visa); 
  • Original, signed I-20 document from Harvard Summer School; 
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt; 
  • Registration Letter from Harvard Summer School; 
  • Supporting financial documents; 
  • Course schedule print out (especially for non-credit students entering on a tourist visa); 
  • Evidence of meeting COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements. 

Please monitor the Harvard International Office coronavirus website for the most up-to-date travel guidance regarding necessary testing and vaccination requirements for all travel to the U.S. 

What will I have to do once I enter the U.S.?

Entering the United States 

You may enter the United States in F-1 status no more than 30 days before the start date listed on your I-20. F-2 dependents must not enter the United States before the F-1 student does. 

Upon entering the United States, you are required to present: 

  • A valid passport; 
  • An original Form I-20; 
    • Please note that your signature MUST be a physical signature on a printed I-20; the Harvard International Office’s signature will be electronic which at this time is acceptable to the US government. 
  • A valid F-1 visa (except for Canadians); 
  • I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt 

Do not pack your I-20 and passport in your luggage. 

Checking in Upon Arrival 

If you have an I-20 from the Summer School, you must check in with a Harvard International Office (HIO) student advisor during the start of Summer term.  

More information will be included about the necessary steps to take once you arrive in the email delivering your approved Form I-20. 

What do I do if I lost my I-20?

If you lose or damage your I-20, contact us at visas@summer.harvard.edu as soon as possible. We can reissue your I-20 and it will be emailed securely to you. 

Please note our standard business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00-17:00 EST. 

What is the I-94?

The I-94 is your electronic record of admission into the United States. This record of admission will change every time you reenter the US. Typically, a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer will update your I-94 after going through immigration at the airport or a land port of entry.  

After you arrive in the US, you must look up your I-94 record, print it and/or save a scan for your records. Please check your date of arrival and that the I-94 shows your class of admission as “F-1” and “admit until” date as “D/S”. This I-94 record will also be necessary for you to complete your HIO Registration. If you have an issue retrieving your I-94 record, please contact the HIO directly. 

What is Opening Weekend?

Opening Weekend is the check-in event for the 7-week session and Summer Session I which will occur on June 18th, 2022. All international students must check-in with the international advisors during Opening Weekend – this is a government requirement. More information about Opening Weekend will be sent as we near Summer Session 1 to students issued an I-20. 

I’m registered for Summer Session II, do I have to attend Opening Weekend?

If you are only registered for Summer Session II, you will attend the Summer II Check-In on Sunday, July 10. If you are registered for both Summer Session I & II, you only need to check-in once during Opening Weekend in June.