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Government Voices: Presenting the Form I-20 at a U.S. Port of Entry

April 20, 2018

The Government Voices series invites the Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) government partners to share their insights with the international student and academic communities. Today’s blog post is from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, CBP is responsible for securing U.S. borders while facilitating lawful travel and trade. Below, CBP Officer Jeni Best talks about the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” in the context of admissibility at U.S. ports of entry.

It is important for designated school officials (DSOs) and F and M students to know that the U.S. government entities involved in the international student life cycle may follow different processes. These processes are established to best suit the operational needs of each entity.

International students may notice these different processes when it comes to the forms they see throughout the international student life cycle, including the Form I-20. For CBP, when an international student arrives at a U.S. port of entry, the student must have an original, ink signature version of the Form I-20.

If a student fails to present the original, ink signature Form I-20, they may receive a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” The Form I-515A informs the student that they have 30 days to provide required documents to SEVP. Failure to do so may result in termination of their status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

In certain instances, such as during their visa appointment, it may be appropriate for students to use a digital copy of the Form I-20. However, we suggest DSOs and international students visit to check that they are using the proper version of the form with their local U.S. embassy. Students may also contact their local embassy or consulate to find out if they are expected to bring the original version of the Form I-20, or if a printed version of the form will be appropriate.

Are you interested in learning more about the documents you may need to present at a U.S. port of entry? I encourage you to tune in to the Government Voices Webinar: What to Expect at a U.S. Port of Entry on May 16, 2018, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT. We will answer both pre-submitted questions and live questions about U.S. port of entry processes during the webinar.

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