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Back to School Brings Changes for Some "Student Visa" Holders

Right on the heels of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announcing the elimination of I-94 cards, CBP has now stated that it will no longer provide admission stamps on Forms I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) and DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status). This change is due to USCIS’s implementation of ELIS (Electronic Immigration System). ELIS electronically adjudicates certain applications (such as Form I-539) and therefore eliminates the old procedure of the Service Center approving the application, placing a stamp on the approved I-20 and mailing it to the beneficiary. This change of not stamping the Form I-20 applies to prospective and returning F, M and J nonimmigrants seeking admission to the United States.
While admission stamps on the Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 are not indicators of lawful status or academic program duration, some state and federal benefit-granting agencies have required F, M and J nonimmigrants to present stamped versions. State requirements vary. To help ease the transition, if a state benefit-granting agency rejects an unstamped Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, applicants may make an appointment with USCIS online through InfoPass and take the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to the local USCIS office for an official to stamp the form. This transitional step will end on Nov. 21, 2012.
If you have questions about these or other immigration issues, contact our Immigration Lawyers today!