DOS announced today that it will begin allowing A/ROs to digitally sign DS-2019s and “electronically transmit” (email) them to EVs . The Interim Final Rule will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register and will take effect in 30 days (April 27).
There have been a lot of discussions with P/DSOs about how to affix a digital signature to an I-20. With regard to DS-2019s, the IFR defines a digital signature as follows:
An application of technology for cryptographically derived signatures that ensures meaningful authentication of the identity of the signer and integrity of the document. Digital signatures are a subset of electronic signatures, but unlike other electronic signatures, digital signatures employ cryptography, i.e., are backed by a process such as a public key infrastructure. Commonly used digital signature software packages include, but are not limited to, DocuSign, Adobe Sign, and Global Sign.
However, sponsors are still able to print out the DS-2019, hand sign and scan it, and then email it to the EV.
The IFR also advises that DOS will no longer require that we sign the DS-2019s in blue ink.
But, despite these new accommodations, I encourage sponsors to send original DS-2019s to their EVs whenever possible. Although consular and CBP officers may be aware of the new rules, my experience is that some staff at DMVs and SSA offices may not be aware of the new rules and may want to see original, blue signatures on DS-2019s — at least for awhile.