As you know, your form I-20 is one of the important documents that must remain up-to-date as long as you are in F-1 non-immigrant status. It should be carried with you whenever you travel, both inside the US and abroad, and it should be stored safely along with your passport, visa, and I-94. If you lose it, or any of your travel documents, the loss should be reported, and your documents should be replaced.
What is the Form I-20?
All F-1 visa students that study in the United States need a Form I-20, which is the “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”
Once accepted to UIS, international students will receive an Initial Form I-20 from their Designated School Official (DSO) depending on their program of study and purpose for coming to the United States.
You must also obtain a Form I-20 for any eligible dependents you plan to bring to the United States with you.
Do I need a new Form I-20?
You do not need a new form I-20:
- If you simply need to travel; the travel endorsement is sufficient.
- If you need to add an employer to your SEVIS record or move from one employer to another; that information will be recorded in your SEVIS record.
- In order to apply for a Change of Status from F-1 to H-1B or another non-immigrant status; a copy of the form I-20 that you already have in your possession is sufficient for that purpose.
- If you have applied for a Change of Status to H-1B and have become eligible for the Cap-Gap extension; your H-1B receipt is sufficient evidence of your continued work authorization.
If any information changes or needs to be updated on the I-20, the student must contact an Immigration Advisor prior to the change taking effect. There is usually some sort of immigration process required in order to make an update to I-20s. Areas commonly in need of monitoring and updates are:
- If your name changes
- If your country of citizenship changes
- If you transfer to a different school
- If there is a change to your educational level, then you will need to request a new Initial Form I-20
- If there is a change to your major field of study
- If there is an unexpected change to your financial support
- If you need to add a dependent
- If you receive authorization to begin a new CPT segment
- If you receive a recommendation for a new OPT segment
- If you have a pending Change of Status and need to defer your start date
- If the travel endorsement section becomes completely filled and you need a new travel endorsement
- If your document becomes damaged to the extent that it is no longer legible
- If there is a change to your program completion date or you require a program extension
- If you have lost your F-1 status and need to apply for reinstatement or re-enter the US to re-establish your status; this will be a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS ID number
If any of these occur, please contact the Office of International Student Services, explain what has happened, provide supporting documents (if needed), and request an updated Form I-20.
Students who do complete their program of study by the end date listed on their I-20 have a 60-day grace period after completion of their program during which they can stay in the US to pack up their belongings and tour around before leaving the US, transfer to another institution, apply for OPT, or change visa status to something else.