Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USC I-20 Processing has been unable to print and mail out I-20s in significant quantities. However, I-20s are still being generated daily for eventual distribution to students. The Department of Homeland Security has now announced that schools will be permitted to electronically send out I-20 certificates that have been digitally signed. Note: This currently applies to certified USC students admitted to the 2020 Summer and Fall semesters. (Last updated 4/15/2020)
Accessing Your Electronic I-20
The I-20 will be issued to you approximately seven business days after you submit your Statement of Intent (certifying) or transfer your SEVIS record from your current U.S. institution to USC.
Your I-20 will be “shared” to your USC email from a unique folder administered by USC I-20 Processing. You must log into your USC email in order to receive the I-20. It cannot be shared to your personal email due to security concerns as well as email reporting compliance standards with the US Department of Homeland Security. Access will not be granted to any email other than your USC email.
Committed students must claim their NetID/email within one to three business days after certifying/paying any applicable commitment deposit.
Printing Your Electronic I-20
After receiving your digitally signed I-20, you will need to print a hard copy and travel with it in hand when you enter the U.S. Presenting your electronic I-20 on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official purpose.
Because electronic I-20s are a new option for students, we strongly recommend printing the DHS guidance as well and keeping it with your printed electronic I-20 when you travel to the U.S. The guidance can be found here. (Link last updated 3/26/2020)
Applying for Your Visa
Please review our website for instructions and guidelines for applying for your F-1 or J-1 visa.
Currently, U.S. Embassies and consulates worldwide remain closed for visa processing until further notice. USC is monitoring the situation closely, but we do not know when we can expect them to reopen for full visa and consular services. (Last updated 4/15/2020)
Note: Students arriving in tourist, visa waiver or ESTA status are not permitted to study.
Transferring Your SEVIS Record to USC
Please review our website for instructions and guidelines regarding transferring your SEVIS record. Once your record is released to USC, you will receive your I-20 via email to your USC email.
Renewing Your Visa
If you are outside the United States and your visa is not expired, you will be able to use your current, unexpired F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S., even if it has your previous school’s name printed on it. If you are receiving a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number, you will need to repay the SEVIS fee for your new document and keep the receipt with you.
If you are inside the United States and your visa has expired, you may remain in the U.S. as long as you have received your transfer I-20 from USC and have no plans to travel outside the U.S. within the five-month transfer period. However, you will need a new F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. the next time you leave the country.
If you are outside the United States or are planning to leave the United States, and your visa has expired or will expire shortly after the start of your program at USC, you must use your USC I-20 to apply for a new F-1 visa.
Traveling Home When Transferring to USC from a U.S. Institution
The decision about whether to return to your home country is a personal one and should be considered carefully, in consultation with family when possible. Please keep in mind that international travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment.
Your transfer I-20 is not required for you to exit the U.S. to return home, but it will be required for you to re-enter the U.S. at a later date. You should print and keep your electronic I-20, as well as the guidance surrounding electronic I-20s, with you when traveling back to the U.S.
FAQs Regarding the New DHS Guidance for Electronic I-20s (Last Updated 4/15/2020)
Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms?
Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of minor students (17 years old or younger), the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian.