On August 15, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unofficially confirmed for NAFSA that:
“CBP is no longer stamping I-20s at POEs. Recognizing that some staff at certain benefit granting agencies (for example, motor vehicle agencies) look for a stamp on these documents before granting a benefit, USCIS is conducting extensive outreach to ensure that these agencies are aware of this change.”
NAFSA has received several reports of difficulties encountered at a number of state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) due to the lack of a stamp on Form I-20. In response to a NAFSA inquiry, USCIS informed NAFSA on August 16, 2012, that:
“If specific issues arise with a DMV or other government agency rejecting a student’s unstamped I-20, we request that the student or their designated school official (DSO) email USCIS at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov so that we can contact the government agency to clarify the benefit.”
CBP has not yet publicly announced this important change in procedure. NAFSA has also asked the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to confirm their understanding of the change, and to update their Fact Sheet: Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry…What a Student Can Expect. That fact sheet was last updated in 2004, and still reads in part, “Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will: Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for F visa holders; Stamp your SEVIS Form for 30 days beyond program end date for M visa holders.” The Study in the States Web site also links to that Fact Sheet.
This change also follows an August 7, 2012 CBP announcement of delays of 30 or more days in entering I-94 data into DHS systems, while CBP works to streamline entry data processes. Both changes come at a time when schools are busy receiving and registering students for the new school year.