International students that decide to transfer to another US College or University mid-studies, or commit to a graduate school, either upon graduating from F&M or after Optional Practical Training (OPT), must complete the F-1 transfer process in order to maintain their F-1 status.
Students must be in valid F-1 status in order to be eligible for the F-1 transfer process. Additionally, there can be a gap of NO MORE THAN five months in between the last date of enrollment or OPT and the Program Start Date of the new program. Furthermore, the deadline to request a transfer is 60 days from the Program End Date on the I-20 OR the OPT end date on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Nearly every US College or University has an Immigration Transfer-In Form. Please email Dean Haring the transfer form that you need completed, or drop it off at the Office of International Programs in the Joseph International Center. Students typically complete the top student section, and Dean Haring will complete the bottom section. Dean Haring will then ensure that the completed transfer form is faxed to the new institution, and she will release the SEVIS record to the new institution in SEVIS (electronically).
Students transferring out will have to choose when their SEVIS record should be released to the new institution. Most students have their record released as soon as possible after the end of their final semester of study at F&M or OPT, so they can apply for a new I-20 through the new school. Please note that releasing the SEVIS record to the new institution will end any authorized period of Optional Practical Training.
Students that choose to travel internationally during the transfer process will need the new I-20 for the upcoming program of study to re-enter the US. A valid passport and F-1 visa will also be required.
While many students use their new I-20 to obtain a new F-1 visa in their home country in between programs of study, this is not always necessary. A student can use his/her existing F-1 visa for re-entry as long as it's not expired and it contains the SEVIS ID number listed on their new I-20. The current name of the school is only required to be on the visa for the first entry into the US.
It is also possible to remain in the US with an expired visa, as long as the student is maintaining F-1 status. However, in this scenario, the student would need to make the time to obtain a new F-1 visa outside of the US if he/she departs the US, preferably in the home country.
Students transferring to a new institution are required to check-in with the International Student Services office at the new institution within 15 days of the Program Start Date on the new I-20. This will cue that office to register new transfer international students in SEVIS for the semester.