U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a policy memorandum on June 1, 2012, eliminating the original signature requirement for supporting Certificates of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Forms I-20) or Certificates of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) submitted with Applications to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Forms I-539). USCIS explained that this change is part of its larger efforts to transition to electronic filing.
USCIS explained that applicants must submit an I-20 with the I-539 form when applying to change nonimmigrant status to F-1 or M-1, for reinstatement to F-1 or M-1 status, for a transfer of schools when in M-1 status, or for an extension of M-1 status. Signatures are required for the Designated School Official and the student. USCIS requires applicants to submit a DS-2019 with the I-539 when applying to change status to J-1. Signatures are required for the applicant and the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer for the exchange program.
USCIS noted that when its Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) is launched for public use, applicants will have the option of submitting their applications either by using ELIS or filing on paper. For applications filed via ELIS, the agency will accept a scanned, electronic version of a valid and properly executed I-20 or DS-2019 for all I-539 filings when required. For any I-539 filed outside ELIS, the agency will accept a photocopy of a valid and properly executed I-20 or DS-2019. Regardless of how the applicant files once ELIS is launched, USCIS will not return the I-20 or DS-2019 to the applicant upon approval of the I-539.
Applicants wishing to have USCIS stamp their I-20 or DS-2019 may make an appointment online through InfoPass and take their form to their local USCIS office. Stamping of I-20s and DS-2019s is a "transitional service that field offices will perform for 6 months after ELIS launches for public use," USCIS explained.
The memorandum is available here.
For FAQs on ELIS, click here.