Electronic Signatures and Distribution of Form I-20

On November 1, 2021, the US government published their 10/12/2021 policy guidance that establishes the procedures for F-1 institutions to use electronic signatures and distribute Form I-20 electronically to new and continuing F-1 students and their F-2 dependents.

This new guidance permits designated school officials (ISSS staff) to electronically sign all signature fields (school attestation section on page one and travel endorsement section on page two) and electronically distribute I-20s. The US government’s COVID-19 temporary policy guidance gave F-1 institutions the ability to temporarily sign and distribute I-20s electronically, but with this November 1 announcement, the US government has formally adopted the use of electronic signatures and distribution of I-20s indefinitely.

In light of this policy, ISSS will discontinue the issuance of paper I-20 forms and instead will provide students with electronic copies. Upon receiving an electronically sent I-20, F-1 students and their dependents should download, print, sign, and date the I-20 in blue ink as the guidance does not allow for e-signatures by the F-1 student or F-2 dependent.

In the government policy guidance, they stated their coordination with various government agencies and bureaus, such as US embassies and consulates, US Social Security Administration, etc., to ensure continued acceptance of electronically signed I-20 forms. Therefore, a printed copy of an electronically sent I-20 can continue to be used when applying for a F-1/F-2 visa and entering the US in F status.

However, since it may take time for the Social Security Administration and Georgia Department of Driver’s Services to update their internal policies, students applying for a Social Security Number (SSN) or driver’s license/ID may want to obtain an original hard copy I-20 from ISSS and/or print a copy of the new policy guidance along with the electronically sent I-20 prior to visiting the Social Security Administration or Georgia Department of Driver’s Services (DDS).

Important: This guidance only applies to F-1 students and their dependents.