Electronic I-20 Issuance
Effectively immediately, OIS will offer F-1 students the option of receiving their I-20s electronically for certain requests. Under normal circumstances, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows academic institutions to only issue hard copy I-20s with wet ink signatures. However, for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS is allowing schools to email an electronic I-20 directly to the student's email address listed in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
As of today, only the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have gone on record to confirm that they will accept electronic I-20s in the processes of applying for or renewing a visa and/or re-entering the U.S. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has not gone on record to confirm that they will accept electronic I-20s. Therefore, OIS will not currently issue electronic I-20s for requests related to USCIS applications, such as OPT/STEM, reinstatement, in-country change of status, etc. Students will continue to receive a hard copy I-20 with wet ink signature from OIS for these USCIS-related requests.
Moving forward, students who have submitted a request to OIS that is eligible for electronic I-20 issuance will be emailed details on how to obtain the document and properly utilize it for visa or travel purposes. If a student does not want an electronic I-20, a hard copy I-20 with wet ink signature can still be issued and mailed to them. Additionally, OIS has begun making electronic I-20s an option for newly admitted international students.
Please note that electronic I-20 issuance is a temporary measure provided by DHS under COVID-19 emergency guidance. Students will be expected to obtain a hard copy I-20 with wet ink signature when campus operations once again permit in-person classes and services. Also, DHS guidance on electronic I-20 issuance can change or be rescinded at any time.
OIS will continue to monitor this situation and all temporary DHS measures related to COVID-19. We will notify the UIC community of changes as they occur and explain the impact on UIC international students, scholars and employees. Feel free to contact us at (312) 996-3121 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.