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I have been interacting with a lot of students recently and one of the common questions that I hear from the students is “If I lost my I-20 while traveling to USA, what will happen? Will I be allowed to enter the United States or not?” Firstly, I tell them to keep the documents safe while traveling, but it’s a good question though. It’s always better to know the procedures of what needs to be done if you don’t have an I-20 while entering the United States. So I will be sharing with you the procedure that you need to follow if you don’t have I-20 in hand while you are entering USA. Below I have provided the common questions that comes to students mind.

What To Do At Immigration At USA?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer always asks for your I-20 to allow you to enter USA. I-20 is the main document that allows a student to enter USA as it stands a proof that the University has accepted you as a Student. But there can be many instances where Students won’t have there I-20 in their hands during Immigration in USA. In these cases, please try to show the following Documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer.

If you are a New Student and Entering USA for the first time:

  • University Acceptance Letter
  • SEVIS Fee Document
  • Your Visa that has been stamped in your Passport
  • I-20 Xerox Copy (You should be having one in your Bag)
  • Try showing the Email in which the University gave you the confirmation of admit (Take a print of that mail and keep it with you)
  • Give contact details of your Universities ISSI office to the Immigration officers
  • If you have any means to contact the University, let them know of your situation before hand if possible
  • Financial Support Documents

If you are Student who has been studying in the USA:

  • University Acceptance Letter
  • SEVIS Fee Document
  • Your Visa that has been stamped in your Passport
  • I-20 Xerox Copy (You should be having one in your Bag)
  • I-94 (This proves that you had entered USA legally before)
  • SSN if you have it
  • Print out of the Transcripts
  • University ID
  • Print out of your Schedule of classes that you will be attending.

 State the reasons for not holding your I-20 in your hands. Be truthful to the officers and state exactly what happened. Never tell lies to them. Try to show all the possible documents that will prove that you are a Student on a F-1 Visa and you have come to the United States to study.

So What Will The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers Do if I show All These Documents? Will I be Allowed To Enter?

Generally, if you were able to show the above documents and tell them the exact reason for which you don’t have I-20 in your hands, they will present you with the I-515A Form. But they have all the rights to deny you from entering the United States as you don’t have the required documents. But generally they will listen to your plea and if you are genuine enough then they will help you out with your case.

What is I-515A Form?

I-515A form will allow you a temporary entry into the United States for a period of 30 days. It’s a bad thing to receive a I-515A form as it will go down in your file. But it’s the best option rather than you returning back home. So you don’t need to be scared of all these things. It happens and it’s ok, Just take it sportingly. You should be happy enough that you are let into the United States. So the form gives you 30 days entry into USA.

I got the I-515A Form. So What’s next?

So the CBP Officer will tell you what needs to be done. Generally the form consist of a checklist. The checklist contains the list of documents that needs to be attached with the I-515A Form. The first thing you need to do is to go to your ISSI/DSO office in the University and tell them that you have received the I-515A Form. They will help you out with the form and the Documents you need to attach with it. Generally, you need to send all these documents via mail to SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). The address in which you need to send these documents is as follows:

Student and Exchange Visitor Program
ATTN: SEVIS/I-515A Processing Team
500 12th Street SW STOP 5600
Washington, DC 20536-5600

Where can I find the Last Date until which I have time to send the Documents?

The 30 day time period that you have will be mentioned in the I-94. You need to take the print out of I-94 and you will be able to see Date Until column. It specifies the Date until which you can stay in the United States. The first thing for you if you receive I-515A form is to send the documents and the form as quickly as possible.

What will happen If I send all the Required Documents on time to SEVP?

Once you send all the documents to SEVP, they will process your documents and go through each and every Document. The Process generally takes sometime. Once the process sis completed the SEVP will inform your ISSI/DSO office about the result for your case. If you have submitted all the documents properly, the SEVP will give the letter of approval to the ISSI/DSO office allowing you to continue your studies as a F-1 Student. The Date Until column in I-94 will be changed. Once the process is completed, your original documents will be returned and you can collect it from ISSI/DSO Office.

What are the cases in which I can receive this I-515A Form?

  • No Passport
  • No Visa
  • No I-20
  • No Financial Support Proof

In such cases, you will receive this form.

Sample Form:

Here is the sample I-515A Form. I have pasted the form that I saw from oie.gatech.eduThe form belongs to Gatech and all the copyrights belong to them. I have just pasted it for better understanding. All copyrights of this image belongs to Gatech.

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I hope I was able to you give enough information about this topic. If you have any questions, please use the comment box.

No I-20 While Entering USA?

One thought on “No I-20 While Entering USA?

  • September 3, 2018 at 7:36 am

    I have my most recent I20s but not the first I20 that was issued to me. I left that in my apartment. I do have a scanned copy of that I20! Will I face trouble?


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