How to Transfer to Another University

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If you’re an international student looking to transfer to another university, here are some helpful resources to get you started.

The Technical Stuff: step by step instructions on how to transfer brought to you by Study in the States

Transferring as a F-1 Student

An F-1 student is eligible to transfer to another school or program of study. To start the process of transferring, you must bring the following to your designated school official (DSO):

  • Written confirmation of acceptance to another Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school
  • Contact information for the new school’s DSO
  • The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) school code for the transfer-in school

Your DSO will then work with you to choose a transfer release date, which is when the DSO at your transfer-in school takes responsibility for your SEVIS record. Several factors go into selecting this date:

  • Academic needs
  • Travel and employment plans
  • Projected start date of your new program

Once your transfer release date arrives, the DSO at your previous school will not have access to your SEVIS record, and your new DSO can create a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status,” for you. It is important to get a new Form I-20 (signed by your new DSO and you) as soon as possible. To maintain your status, register for classes and contact your new DSO within 15 days of the program start date listed on your new Form I-20.

If you have arrived in the United States but want to transfer to a new school before you begin classes at the school listed on your Form I-20, talk to the DSO at the school listed on that form. You need to inform the DSO that you have arrived in the United States and want to transfer immediately to another SEVP-certified school. You must show proof of acceptance to your new school. You must report to your new school and enroll in a full course of study within 30 days of arriving in the United States.

Transferring as a M-1 Student

An M-1 student may only transfer programs within the first six months of arriving in the United States. The only exception to this is if you are unable to stay at a school because of circumstances beyond your control, such as if a school closes.

An M-1 student may transfer under the following conditions:

  • Within six months of your arrival in the United States or, if you changed to M-1 status from another nonimmigrant classification, within six months of the change
  • If your documentation confirms that you are an M-1 student
  • You remain engaged in a full course of study at your current school
  • You plan to pursue a full course of study at your new school
  • You are financially able to attend the new school
  • You are continuing with the same educational objective

The M-1 transfer process is as follows:

  • Apply and gain admission to another Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that accepts M students in the same educational objective.
  • Tell your current designated school official (DSO) your plans to transfer, and provide the name of the transfer-in school and proof of acceptance by them. The DSO at you current school must change your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to “transfer-out” status.
  • After this change, the DSO at your transfer-in school can generate and print a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status.” If the SEVIS record at the current school is in Terminated status, the DSO at your transfer-in school will need to recommend you for reinstatement on the Form I-20.
  • Submit your request for approval to transfer with a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” and your new Form I-20 (signed by the transfer-in DSO and you) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • If USCIS approves your transfer application, they will endorse the name of the new school on your Form I-20 and return it.

To be eligible to transfer, you must continue attending all of your classes at your current school while you are waiting to transfer. For an M student, that is until you have submitted you Form I-539 application for approval to transfer. While your application is pending, you must enroll at the new school at the next available session. It is important to maintain your status while waiting for USCIS adjudications.

My Experience Transferring as an International Student

Christina Burke, ISV Ambassador shares her own experience transferring to another university

I never really thought much about the day I would transfer, but when it came I was a bit overwhelmed and anxious about the move. I have transferred twice. After graduating from community college, I knew I needed to transfer but I wasn’t prepared for the financial position I was about to get myself in. I was left me to decide if I would be taking advantage of curricular practical training (CPT) or taking the semester off. After worrying about my decision it worked out so I could continue my studies, it was last minute and so the transfer process was a tedious one. I found myself running back and forth from the community college to the university getting all the right forms, filling them out and then submitting them.

The second time around my transfer process between universities was much easier, I was much more prepared so I got the transfer-in and transfer-out forms and submitted them on time. I also needed additional documents such as a recommendation and a copy of my transcript. One thing I am still trying to resolve is figuring out if all my credits from my previous universities will be transferable to my new university for those credits were well earned!

Additionally the date I signed over my documents to the new university, I was stuck in a limbo, because I was ineligible to attain a paid internship or work. [and since I had not planned on travelling I was a sitting duck.] 

The transfer process is a fairly simple one, but it depends on how prepared you and your advisors are and how wisely you use your time. It took me some time running around, from campus to campus, but it can be reduced if you have the entire paperwork ready and all advisors and you yourself are on the same page.

International student thinking about transferring should be prepared at all times that is gather all necessary paperwork and know deadlines, it is absolutely necessary for a successful and stress free transfer process. Make sure the institution that you are transferring to confirm that your credits are transferable. Sometimes the school from which you are transferring from and the school you plan on transferring to may have their own paperwork that needs to be completed, signed and submitted in a specific order. So as soon you get your acceptance letter, start the ball rolling.

Furthermore if you decide you would like to intern or work then you should speak to both advisors from you current school and your prospective school to make sure that you will be eligible. Time is of the essence.


Christina_international student voice magazineChristina Burke

ISV Ambassador

Howard University




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