I-20/DS-2019 Mailing Options


Important Updates Regarding the Issuance of Immigration Documents in Response to COVID-19


Digital I-20s and DS-2019s
Under normal circumstances, the United States government does not allow I-20s and DS-2019s to be sent electronically.  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, exceptions are being made.  Only the Primary Designated School Official or the Designated School Officials may sign and send the I-20 in the following methods.
  • Physically sign the I-20 and email a scanned version
  • Digitally sign the I-20 using electronic signature software or a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature and email the I-20.
The Department of State has not issued permission to electronically sign DS-2019s. Students should not electronically sign I-20s or DS-2019s.

ISS will continue to issue Form I-20s and DS-2019s, physically sign them and upload copies into the ISS Terra Dotta system. The digital copy of the Form I-20/DS-2019 is a convenience copy.  The United States government has not stated how the digital I-20 or DS-2019 can be used.  The Department of State has stated that the original DS-2019 is needed for visa issuance or port of entry.
Students will be able to download the digital I-20 in the ISS Terra Dotta system.  In rare cases, ISS will email the digital I-20.  The I-20 can only be emailed to the student’s email address in SEVIS.  While it is possible to send the I-20 or DS-2019 electronically, until we have further guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and/or the Department of State, we recommend that you do not use the digital I-20 or DS-2019 for any official purposes. 

As such, ISS will be mailing these original documents to students in the following manner:
  • Students currently INSIDE the United States: These students will be able to request regular mail through the United States Postal Service OR Express Shipment through eShipGlobal
  • Students currently OUTSIDE the United States: The students will only be able to request their documents to be shipped via eShipGlobal express shipments.
More information about this shift can be found in the following section

Required Express Mail for International Shipments

The United States Postal Services has announced that they are temporarily suspending international mail service to multiple countries because of service disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of these countries can be found at the following link  https://www.usps.com/international/mail-shipping-services.htm#readmore
Additionally, the United States Postal Service continues to suspend the guarantee on Priority Mail Express International going to China and Hong Kong.  https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/
For this reason, International Student Services will temporarily be sending I-20s and DS-2019s outside the United States through express mail only, such as through Fed Ex, United Parcel Services (UPS), and DHL.  Please follow the instructions for eShipglobal that are included in the records in Terra Dotta and at http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/You-are-Admitted-Now-What#0-InitialDocumentsMailingOptions.
 
Third Party Shipments

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) states that “at no time should the Form I-20 be issued to a third party.”  International Student Services must request permission from SEVP to send I-20s to a third party.  ISS will not be able to send the I-20 until receiving SEVP approval.  This could take 2 weeks to a month. 

SEVP will only grant exemptions from this policy only when circumstances prevent direct issuance.  Examples include:  

  • Students who are in countries where U.S. courier services do not operate. 
  • Students who are in areas with inadequate infrastructure or services that make deliveries generally difficult or would be insecure. 
For students wanting ISS to request an exemption from the Third Party Shipments rule on their behalf, they may submit a request at  https://tamu-iss.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=OneStep.Apply&Program_ID=10134.

ISS will then contact the Student Exchange Visitor Program and request permission to express mail it to the third party.  The I-20 or DS-2019 will not be shipped until SEVP permission is received.  
Students submitting requests through Terra Dotta will be completing a mailing options questionnaire so that ISS knows how they plan to receive their I-20 or DS-2019. If they indicate their preferred mailing option through the program, it is not necessary to email their preferred option as well.

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that I-20s can only be released "directly to the nonimmigrant students, their dependents, or, for minors, to their parent or legal guardian", https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2019/Guidance-FormI-20.pdf.  

This means that ISS will no longer release I-20s or DS-2019s to third parties  including friends or academic departments.  ISS has consulted the Texas A&M University System General Counsel regarding this policy. 
 
If your request is not present in Terra Dotta, please note that you have the following mailing options available to you. Please email iss@tamu.edu with your full name, UIN, and preferred mailing option. The following mailing options are available:

‚ÄčPlease Note: While the COVID-19 pandemic Shelter-In-Place Order is in effect, you cannot pick up the I-20 in person.  Please choose one of the other options listed below: 
  1. You may ask ISS to mail you the document(s) by regular U.S Postal Service mail or airmail to the specific address you provide (inside or outside the U.S.). There is no cost to you but also no tracking service available if you choose this option. ISS cannot provide any time estimate and cannot guarantee delivery if you choose this option. The length of time it may take to receive your document(s) is highly dependent on the address where it will be mailed.
  2. You may ask ISS to send you the document(s) via express mail at your expense. To do so, you must use the eShipGlobal service to have your document(s) express mailed to you through either FedEx, UPS, or DHL at your own expense. Visit https://study.eshipglobal.com/  (do not visit the FedEx, UPS, or DHL websites directly) to create a user name and password and to set up an account. To request shipment, you will need your Texas A&M UIN, mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and credit card information. If you have questions about how to use this service, review the Help section of the eShipGlobal website or e-mail support@eshipglobal.com.