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Policy Guidance

SEVP Policy Provides Information on Form I-20 English Proficiency Guidance

August 5, 2016

In response to stakeholders’ questions, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provides the following information concerning the final guidance it released  in July 2016.

The SEVP Policy Guidance S13.2: The Form I-20 and the English Proficiency Field focuses on an existing regulation (8 CFR 214.3(k) Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility). The guidance emphasizes that if a school’s program requires English proficiency as a standard for admission, schools can only issue the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” after all standards for admission, including English proficiency, are met.

This regulation was in effect before SEVP published this final guidance. This means that if a school or a specific program in the school requires a certain level of English proficiency as a standard for admission, that school should not have issued a Form I-20 to a student whose English language skills do not meet the school’s requirement.

If a school issued a Form I-20 incorrectly, before or after the guidance was published, the school should correct it as soon as practicable. 

Do you have questions regarding SEVP policy? Contact the SEVP Response Center by emailing your questions to

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