SEVP Aims to Curb Use of Recruiters by Prospective F-1 Students

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is part of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), recently issued a broadcast message reminding designated school officials (DSOs) that all form I-20s must be issued directly to the F-1 student, parent, or legal guardian. Other than in very limited circumstances, the I-20 cannot be sent to a third party. This message affirms SEVP’s intent to discourage the use of recruiters by F-1 students.

Broadcast Message Reiterates Recent Guidance

The broadcast announcement serves to highlight SEVP policy guidance issued in June 2019. Per the guidance, for purposes of privacy, security, and fraud prevention, the university or school must issue the I-20 directly to the student, to the student’s dependents, or, for minors, to the student’s parent or guardian. The guidance specifically prohibits the I-20 from being sent to a recruiter.

Rare Exemptions Allowing Issuance of I-20 to Third Parties

Per the broadcast message, SEVP will only grant exemptions from this policy if direct issuance of the I-20 is not feasible. SEVP provides two examples of instances in which such an exemption may be granted, including when a student is in a country where U.S. courier services do not operate, or when one is in an area where delivery generally would be difficult or unsecured.

The DSO should submit a request for such an exemption to SEVP, providing the reason for the request, along with the identity of the individual who would be issued the I-20, and the relationship between that individual and the student.


This broadcast does not represent a policy change but serves to ensure DSOs are properly enforcing this relatively new policy.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.