Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced that it will no longer provide international students and scholars who are seeking admission to the United States on F, M or J nonimmigrant visas with admission stamps on the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” and Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.” This change, announced on August 27, 2012, and effective as of August 10, 2012, was made in response to the June 2012 decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to stop stamping the Form I-20 and Form DS-2019.
Admission stamps on the Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 are not indicators of lawful status or academic program duration, but some state and federal benefit-granting agencies require F, M and J nonimmigrants to present stamped versions of these forms in order to receive benefits. If a stamped version of the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 is required by a state or federal agency, the foreign national may make an appointment with USCIS via its online InfoPass portal and then take the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to the local USCIS office for stamping of the form by an immigration official. This is merely a transitional step, however, and all stamping of the Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 is scheduled to end on November 21, 2012.
F, M and J nonimmigrants who encounter issues with state or federal benefit applications can contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at (703) 603-3400 or SEVP@dhs.gov.