International Student Office (ISO)

Part I. Getting Admitted, Getting an I-20

Q.  How can I apply to the University of Memphis ?

International Student Application for Undergraduate Admissions:

International Student Application for Graduate Admissions

Q.  What else will I need to do?

Please remember, applying for a graduate degree program at the U of M will necessitate interaction with at least three different offices: 1. your academic department, 2. the Admissions Office and 3. the International Students Office. Each of these offices serves a different role in bringing International Students to the U of M. Because the academic portion of the process is handled by the academic department and the Admissions Office, our office, the International Students Office, will not become officially involved until AFTER the admission is complete and approved.

Undergraduate students must interact directly with the Undergraduate Admissions Office and be completely admitted before continuing to the next step with the International Students Office.

Q.  While I'm waiting to get admitted, can you send me an I-20? I heard that I need one as soon as possible to get my visa.

It is true that an I-20 is required to get a student visa (also called an F-1 visa), however, the I-20 can never be issued until all admission processes are complete.

Q. To make sure that I get my I-20 quickly, what do I need to do?

First, make sure to meet all requirements in both the Admissions Office and in your academic department. These offices may need transcript evaluations, test scores, or other documents.

Then, make sure that the International Students Office has information about funding. The United States Government requires all incoming international students to prove how they will pay for tuition, fees, and living costs. This proof could be a bank statement from the student, an affidavit of support from a family member or other sponsor, or, rarely, a graduate assistantship or scholarship. Please make sure to get that financial information directly to the International Students Office, even if you have submitted a copy to some other office on campus previously.

Finally, make sure that our office has an accurate address for you in your home country, as well as the exact spelling of your name as it appears in the passport. Even if the passport spelling of your name contains an inaccuracy, we must make the I-20 match the passport, no matter what.

Q.  Can my friend come get my I-20 on my behalf? Will you Fed Ex the I-20 for me? I heard that I need one as soon as possible to get my visa.

We can only release I-20's directly to the student named on the document, and our office only has funding for regular overseas mailing. However, if you or your friend will provide a FedEx account number, we will ship FedEx, billed to you. Please let us know well in advance if you wish to make these arrangements.

Part II. Visas, Delays, and Other Schools

Q.  I'm a fully admitted student who has received an I-20. What do I do now?

Please make sure to read all the materials that arrived with your I-20. That information will tell you how to prepare for your trip to the U.S. , when to come to the U of M, and other important information. Once you have made an appointment with your nearest U.S. consulate, be sure to follow all their instructions for applying for the NIV (non-immigrant visa) called F-1 (used for degree-seeking students only).

Q.  I just received The University of Memphis I-20, and I want to attend the U of M, but I already got my visa issued with the name of a different school. Can I still attend the U of M?

This is completely dependent upon the other school. Once you have obtained a visa with the name of a specific college or university, you must report to that school and then request a SEVIS transfer if you wish to leave. The school listed on your I-20 may release you immediately, or may require you to complete a term on their campus first.

Q.  What is this SEVIS that you speak of? Is it important?

SEVIS is the United States Government tracking system for international students. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System begins monitoring a student even before he or she enters the U.S. Each I-20 is individually numbered, and the U.S. Consulate uses these numbers to confirm the authenticity of the I-20 when the visa application is processed.

It is vitally important to understand that SEVIS is an automated system, strictly monitored by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Please make sure to comply with all SEVIS requirements while inside the U.S.

Q.  What else should I know about SEVIS? What about the USCIS rules? This sounds important!

Please make sure to read the materials that arrived with your I-20, and do not miss New Student Orientation for Internationals, which is held in the week before classes begin. USCIS rules, in addition to other mandatory information, will be covered.

Q.  I received my I-20, but I was turned down for my visa! Can I use this same I-20 to apply again for a visa next semester?

Students must have an up-to-date I-20 for their visa applications. If your visa application is denied, simply return the I-20 to our offices, and we will both defer your admission to the next semester and prepare a new I-20 and send it to you for a new attempt.

Part III. Social Security
Q. What to bring? Do you qualify?
A.  Bring your: Passport, I-20 or DS20-19, a print-out of your I-94 information from, and a letter from the international students office,   AND a letter or job offer from your new employer on campus.  F-1 students must bring all of these documents, including the letter proving a current job offer on campus, or the application will be denied.
Q.  Where to go?   
A.  take the required documents to: 1330 Monroe Ave.
This is at the Intersection of Monroe and Cleveland.  West of the Campus, towards downtown. 
Check this website for map and phone numbers and directions.   Use zip code 38104 for your search.
Q.  When and Why is a Social Security Card Necessary?
A.  Businesses and landlords ask for a social security card because they routinely check a person’s credit history.  However, international students who are new to the U.S. do not have any credit history, and it is useless for these businesses to ask for a SSN#.   Many businesses will say that a social security number is mandatory.  However, this is misleading.  Social Security numbers are the most common form of identification in the U.S., but they are NOT the only form of acceptable identification.
In the University of Memphis area, most landlords, banks and utility companies have grown accustomed to working with international students, and will accept a University of Memphis I.D. card, form I-20AB and passport.
The Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles has an official policy for international students without SS#. 
Caution:  Even if a company or agency has an official policy for international students with no SS#, the front desk staff may not know about it.  That well-meaning but untrained person may turn away a qualified international student, simply because they are not familiar with all of their company’s policies.
Note:   in Memphis, the Social Security office REQUIRES that F-1 and J-1 visa holders show PROOF of a job offer before processing a ssn# application. 
Q.  So, if an F-1 does not yet have a job offer, what can be done? 
A.  Taxpayer identification numbers
1.  Take your I-20 or DS20-19, passport and I-94 print-out and
2.  Go to the Falls Building,    22 North Front Street,      4th floor,    suite 400.
(This is downtown, about 6 miles West of campus.  Union Avenue is usually your best route to Front Street)
This is the local Internal Revenue Service Office.  This office issues official U.S. Government Taxpayer identification numbers.  You must apply in person.  You can not apply by phone or through the mail.
NOTE:  even though they are not eligible for employment, F-2 visa holders should always obtain this kind of identification number.

Featured Links

Insurance FAQs

Housing Information

Social Security Information

Student Organization Links

Websites of Interest


Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2015 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
Last Updated: 4/18/14