As of June 28, 2021, the Office of International Education (OIE) discontinued the issuance of paper I-20 forms to students and instead issues digitally-signed electronic I-20 forms. OIE advisors digitally sign the electronic I-20 form and provide the PDF file directly to students in a protected sharing format. Please note, the digitally-signed I-20 form is not a copy of your paper I-20 form. The digitally-signed I-20 form is considered your original and most up-to-date I-20 form.
Here are a few reasons to be excited about this change:
- Digitally-signed I-20s are friendlier to our global environment. By moving to digitally signed I-20s we are reducing the carbon footprint of international and domestic shipping.
- Students and recent graduates will be able to immediately access their digitally signed I-20s shared in a secure format. This means no more walking across campus to pick up documents or waiting on international or domestic shipping.
- All U.S. government agencies accept the digitally-signed I-20 form for all purposes.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced in March 2020 that schools are permitted to digitally sign I-20 forms. SEVP coordinated with all government agencies including the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to raise awareness of the approved digitally-signed I-20 format. The digitally-signed I-20 form is accepted by DOS at the time of attending a visa interview as well as by CBP when an individual attempts to enter the U.S. The digitally-signed form is also acceptable for USCIS filing purposes. At this time, OIE has not been made aware of any incidents of the government agencies refusing to accept the digitally-signed I-20 forms. You can learn more about the SEVP support for the digitally-signed I-20 online at https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf.
How to Use Your Digitally Signed I-20 Form
After receiving your digitally-signed I-20 form, you will need to do the following:
1. Print a hard copy of the digitally-signed I-20 form on standard 8.5 inches X 11 inches white paper.
2. Sign with your signature at the bottom of the 1st page of the digitally-signed I-20.
3. Travel with the hard-copy printed version of the digitally-signed I-20 in hand when you enter the U.S. or attend your visa interview.
4. Bookmark the SEVP guidance on digitally-signed I-20s here to reference, if needed.
Presenting your digitally-signed I-20 form on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official government purposes. We hope that one day the U.S. government will no longer require a paper document, but until that day, don't forget to print and follow the steps above.