The Mighty I-20

I just wish to illustrate how important that little piece of paper that we call the I-20 is.

After high school, I remember getting a lot of emails from colleges I had been accepted into (not too many but enough to show I still got it). They had numerous attachments that required filling in, signing and returning, either by fax or email. It was all good and well until I received this one email that said something along the lines of, “You will receive a package ...” (first thought is a college T-shirt or a hoodie if I’m lucky) “...that contains an important document that you cannot lose.”  

Lose? I have lost quite a lot of things in my lifetime so that email scared me a little.

I waited for this package that is too important to be faxed and too precious to be emailed. When it finally arrived, it was an I-20 (the document you see on the picture except with information filled in on it). I immediately felt like it should have “CLASSIFIED” stamped on it or some CIA-like secret terms written on the envelope since it had all sorts of information regarding my travel to the U.S., who I was, which state and college I was going to, how much financial aid I was receiving, EVERYTHING.

To cut the long story short, as an international student, I was informed that without the I-20:

  1. You will be refused entry into the US

  2. You will not be able to get a state ID

  3. You will not be able to obtain a U.S. driver’s license

  4. You will not be able to obtain a Social Security Card

Therefore, the moral of the story is, to live the American Dream, you have got to remember to TAKE YOUR I-20 with you the moment you travel back to the U.S.


Keneuoe Mphutlane is a sophomore International Political Economy major from Maseru, Lesotho.