The journey of studying in the United States is a dynamic and exciting one, and it’s not uncommon for F-1 visa holders to consider transferring from one university to another. Whether you’re seeking better academic opportunities, a change of location, or other reasons, this blog will guide you through the process of transferring your F-1 visa from one U.S. university to another, including important details and USCIS rules to keep in mind.
Understanding the F-1 Visa Transfer Process
Transferring your F-1 visa from one U.S. university to another is a well-established process, but it must be done correctly to maintain your lawful status. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:
Step 1: Secure Admission to the New University
Before initiating the transfer, you must gain admission to the new university where you intend to continue your studies. Make sure to follow the admission requirements and deadlines set by the university’s admissions office.
Step 2: Notify Your Current Designated School Official (DSO)
Once you’ve been accepted into the new university, inform your current DSO about your intention to transfer. They will need to initiate the transfer process in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Step 3: Provide Required Documentation
Your current DSO will request the following documentation to initiate the transfer in SEVIS:
- A copy of your admission letter from the new university.
- The Transfer-In Form provided by your new university.
- Proof of financial support for your studies at the new university.
- A copy of your current Form I-20.
Step 4: Complete the SEVIS Transfer Process
Your DSO will complete the SEVIS transfer process, ensuring that your SEVIS record is released to your new university. Once this transfer is initiated, your new university will be able to access your SEVIS record.
Step 5: Apply for a New Form I-20
After the SEVIS transfer is initiated, your new university will issue a new Form I-20. This document will reflect the transfer and your new academic program details. Ensure that you review it for accuracy.
Step 6: Maintain Continuity of Status
During the transfer process, it’s essential to maintain your F-1 status. This means attending classes at your current university until the transfer release date and complying with all F-1 visa regulations.
USCIS Rules and Important Considerations
When transferring between U.S. universities on an F-1 visa, here are some key USCIS rules and considerations to keep in mind:
- SEVIS Transfer Deadline: The transfer must be completed within 15 days of the program start date listed on your new Form I-20. Failure to meet this deadline can result in loss of status.
- Travel Considerations: While it’s possible to travel between universities during the transfer process, it’s generally recommended to complete the transfer within the U.S. for a smoother transition.
- Employment Authorization: If you have Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization, consult with your DSO regarding how the transfer might affect your OPT eligibility.
- Financial Considerations: Ensure that you have sufficient financial resources to cover tuition and living expenses at your new university.
- Maintain Good Academic Standing: Keep up with your coursework and maintain good academic standing at both your current and new universities.
Transferring your F-1 visa from one U.S. university to another can open up new opportunities for your academic and personal growth. By following the steps outlined above and adhering to USCIS rules, you can ensure a seamless transition to your new educational institution. Remember to communicate closely with your DSOs at both universities to facilitate a successful transfer and maintain your F-1 visa status.