CBP Discontinues Stamping Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 At Ports of Entry

August 23, 2012

On August 23, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) posted the following notice on their Web site:

As of Aug. 10, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no longer provides admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 for prospective and returning international students and scholars (traveling with F, M, and J visas) seeking admission to the United States. This change makes CBP processes consistent with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) recent change to stop stamping Forms I-20/DS-2019. USCIS implemented this change as part of the launch of its online immigration benefits system, USCIS Electronic Immigration System, as it transforms the agency from a paper-based system to an online environment. (USCIS Electronic Immigration System)

Although placing an admission stamp on Forms I-20/DS-2019 has been a longstanding practice at CBP, it is not required. While the admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 are not indicators of lawful status or academic program duration, some state and federal benefit granting agencies have required international students and scholars to present stamped versions. State requirements vary.

If a state benefit granting agency rejects an unstamped Form I-20/DS-2019, applicants may make an appointment with USCIS online through InfoPass and take their Form I-20/DS-2019 to their local USCIS office to be stamped. (InfoPass) This transitional step will end on Nov. 21, 2012.

International students and scholars who encounter issues with their state or federal benefit applications should continue to contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at (703) 603-3400 or SEVP@dhs.gov.

Prior to this announcement, CBP had been indicating that only Forms I-20 would be affected by this new policy. The June 1, 2012 USCIS policy that CBP refers to in its notice, however, does apply to both Forms I-20 and Forms DS-2019, which are of course both SEVIS forms, and CBP's notice does now appear to be more consistent with USCIS policy.