For the most up-to-date news and information related to immigration executive orders, make sure to visit BU’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) website.

We understand that obtaining your visa is a stressful process, and we are here to help in any way possible. Please review the below information to better understand our process, and do not hesitate to email us with any questions you may have.

Immigration Documents Timelines

Timeline How Long it Typically Takes
You complete all immigration documents* One week at minimum
Your I-20 or DS-2019 is processed and mailed to you One month
You receive the I-20 or DS-2019 One week from mailing, at most

Please also note that you can apply for your visa up to 120 days before your program start date. You will be unable to make an appointment at your embassy or consulate until you have the I-20 in hand. Similarly, you should not arrange a flight to Boston until you have your I-20 and know what day you will be allowed to enter the country.



For more details on the three types of documentation we need before we can issue your I-20 or DS-2019, continue reading below. All documents can be uploaded through the Applicant Gateway. Please ensure that each document is uploaded to the correct type, otherwise the processing of your documents will be delayed.

1. International Student Data Form

In order for BU to issue you the proper immigration documents, we need information from you.  The completed International Student Data Form (ISDF) provides us with that. All international students must complete the ISDF, even if their visa is being sponsored by an organization other than Boston University.

A Few Tips for Completing the ISDF Mistake-Free

  • Enter your name exactly as it appears in your passport, even though you may have more than one way of spelling your name (especially in English).
  • Enter your date of birth in the American format: month, day, and year (MM/DD/YYYY). For example, May 12, 1978, should be written 05/12/1978.
  • Answer every question.
  • Sign and date the form.

2. Passport and Visa History

We will need both:

  • A copy of your passport data page
    • If you are bringing dependents we will also need copies of their passport data pages.
  • Copies of all of your previous US immigration documents 
    • If you are bringing dependents we will also need copies of their previous immigration documents.

3. Financial Documentation

In order for us to issue your immigration documents, we need to receive official financial documentation from you (in English) demonstrating the availability of funds to cover estimated tuition and living expenses for the academic year. We have created a table to guide you in understanding the funds you need to demonstrate:

For more details on the pre-LLM Legal English Program’s cost, visit CELOP’s website to view the program’s fees and expenses.

If You Are Supporting Yourself or Being Supported by an Individual Other than Yourself

Proof of funds can be in the form of:

  • an English language bank statement showing the required funds, with the account holder’s name listed in English


  • an official English language bank letter, signed and stamped by the bank
    • To help you understand what BU needs, please see an example of a financial document/bank letter below

*It is helpful if bank statements and letters list funds in US dollars so that fluctuations in exchange rates do not have to be taken into account.

In addition, if you are being sponsored by an individual other than yourself, we need a completed Sponsor Certification Form which states that he/she will pay for your tuition, fees, and living expenses for the duration of your studies at Boston University School of Law.

If You Are Sponsored by an Organization, Company, or Government

There is no need for a bank letter or financial statement, but we need an original English language letter from your sponsor which states that the organization will pay for your tuition, fees, and living expenses for the duration of your studies at Boston University School of Law. This letter must be signed, dated, and on official letterhead. If the sponsorship includes additional factors, like the summer Legal English Program, and/or living expenses for dependents, that information must be included in the letter.

Sample Financial Document/Bank Letter

Dear Boston University:

This financial institution, Bank of Madrid, certifies that Ms. Jane Smith has financial holdings of at least USD $75,000 available to be used for paying her tuition, fees, and living expenses for the duration of her studies at Boston University School of Law. This information is true to the best of my knowledge.


Bank Official
Madrid, Spain
April 15, 2019

After Receiving Your I-20

Following the receipt of your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to schedule an appointment with your countries’ closest US consulate, or embassy.  BU’s ISSO has a complete overview of this process here.