How Soon May an F-1 Student Transfer?

An F-1 student may transfer from one school certified by the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) to another such school, if the student has consistently maintained his or her F-1 status and the student follows transfer procedures.

A DSO (designated school official) is prohibited from refusing to transfer an F-1 student’s SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record. A SEVIS record is the definitive record of student status and visa eligibility. A DSO also is prohibited from terminating an F-1 student’s SEVIS record because of the transfer request. While one might be able to imagine why, under certain circumstances, a DSO might be upset if a tuition-paying F-1 student wishes to transfer shortly after starting classes, the DSO  is, in fact, prohibited from retaliating by refusing to transfer the SEVIS record or terminating the record. That being said, the decision to transfer academic information, such as transcripts, is a matter of school policy.

Some F-1 students, however, are not permitted to transfer. For example, an F-1 student who does not pursue a full course of study at the school he or she was authorized to attend might  be ineligible for school transfer and may have to apply for reinstatement. Alternatively, this student may have depart the US and try to return with a new F-1 visa.

With that being said, an F-1 student who attends, even for just a day, the school they were authorized to attend is not prevented, on account of the brief period of attendance, from transferring to a different school.

Further, an F-1 student who has arrived in the US and wants to transfer immediately to a new SEVP-certified school before beginning classes at the school listed on the student’s Form I-20 or F-1 visa, may be permitted to do so.