USCIS requires applicants to submit Form I-20 or DS-2019 with Form I-539 when applying for a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, or M-2 (Form I-20) or to J-1 or J-2 (Form DS-2019). Form I-20 must also be submitted by an F-1 or M-1 student who is applying for reinstatement, and by M-1 students applying to extend their M-1 stay or transfer to another M-1 school.

According to a June 1, 2012 USCIS Policy Memorandum, USCIS has implemented the following changes regarding Forms I-20 and DS-2019 submitted in connection with Form I-539 applications, effective immediately.

  • For I-539 applications filed through USCIS ELIS, USCIS will accept a scanned, electronic version of a valid and properly executed Form I-20 or DS-2019. The original Form I-20 or DS-2019 need not be submitted, and should be retained by the applicant.
  • For I-539 applications filed on paper, USCIS will accept a photocopy of a valid and properly executed Form I-20 or DS-2019. The original Form I-20 or DS-2019 need not be submitted, and should be retained by the applicant.
  • For both ELIS and paper filings, USCIS will no longer return an I-20 or DS-2019 to the applicant after the application is approved.

On August 23, 2012, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that as of August 10, 2012, it too has discontinued stamping Forms I-20 and DS-2019 at ports of entry.

Both USCIS and CBP acknowledge that some individuals may encounter issues if they present an unstamped I-20 or DS-2019 to a state or federal benefit granting agency (such as a DMV or SSA).

As an interim measure, the USCIS memo also provides that "applicants wishing to have USCIS stamp their Form I-20 or DS-2019 may make an appointment online through InfoPass and take their form to their local USCIS office. Stamping of Form I-20s or DS-2019s is a transitional service that field offices will perform for 6 months after ELIS launches for public use." This transitional stamping service will end on November 21, 2012, unless otherwise extended.

In addition to referencing the interim InfoPass option described above, the CBP announcement also states that, "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 [email protected].