Transferring to a new school as an F-1 student

If you are in valid F-1 status and you want to attend another school in the United States, you may be able to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school.

Are you currently a UW-Madison student?

  1. Check your eligibility:
    • You must be in valid F-1 status
    • You must request the transfer within 60 days of
      • Current students: completing your program
      • OPT/STEM students: the expiration of your EAD card
    • Your new program of study must start within 5 months of
      • Current students: completing your program
      • OPT/STEM students: the expiration of your EAD card
  2. Apply for SEVIS transfer on Terra Dotta (newly admitted UW-Madison students: see Transfer in to UW-Madison section):
  3. Work with your new school to get your “transfer pending” I-20
    • Your new school can create your I-20 once your SEVIS record has been released.
    • You must check in with your new school within 15 days of your new program start date.

Travel:

  • You can travel internationally during the transfer of your SEVIS record.
  • You must have your “transfer pending” I-20 from your new school when you re-enter the United States.
  • You can return to the United States once you have your “transfer pending” I-20. You do not need to wait until 30 days before the program start date.
  • Plan to arrive in Madison at least 2-3 days before your orientation.

Visa:

  • If your F-1 visa is valid, you can use it to re-enter the United States, even if it lists UW-Madison.

Work eligibility:

  • Your on- and off-campus work eligibility ends on the date that your SEVIS record is transferred or the end date of your I-20, whichever is sooner.
  • Continuing students: You can work on campus until your SEVIS record is transferred.
  • OPT/STEM extension students: You are eligible to work until the expiration date of your EAD card or the date your SEVIS record is transferred, whichever is sooner.
  • After you transfer, talk to the international office at your school about your employment options.

When can I schedule my SEVIS transfer?

  • You can schedule your SEVIS transfer in advance.
  • If your selected date has already passed when ISS processes your request, your transfer-out date will be the date the form was processed.

How do I choose my SEVIS transfer-out date?

Your transfer-out date must meet these requirements:

  • No earlier than your last date of enrollment at UW-Madison
  • No later than 60 days from your date of program completion, or the expiration of your EAD card for OPT/STEM students
  • Before you begin your studies at your new institution

What are the benefits of transferring my SEVIS record?

  • You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again.
  • You can stay in the U.S. or travel internationally during the SEVIS transfer period.
  • You can return to the U.S. more than 30 days before your program starts. Check the information on your new I-20; it should say “transfer pending.”

Can I stay in the United States during the summer?

Yes. If you have maintained your F-1 status and have been approved for the SEVIS transfer, you can stay in the U.S.

Is this all I need to do to transfer to a new school?

This information pertains to your immigration status only. Please follow your new school’s instructions to meet any academic requirements as necessary.

Have you been admitted to a program of study at UW-Madison?

Check with your current international advisor to make sure you are eligible for a SEVIS transfer.

The I-20 can only be issued after you are admitted to the University and have activated your NetID. You will apply through your Terra Dotta portal.

Complete the Transfer Verification Request in Terra Dotta. Provide your international student advisor’s contact information from your previous school. You must complete this step to notify UW-Madison that you are a SEVIS Transfer student.

Once your previous school releases your SEVIS record and UW-Madison has received all required admissions materials from you, your admitting unit will issue you a “transfer pending” I-20. Check with Admissions for further guidance.

There will be several orientation events before the start date of your I-20/DS-2019, including the mandatory ISS check-in and International Student Orientation. Plan to arrive 2-3 days before your earliest orientation.

Travel

  • You can travel internationally during the transfer of your SEVIS record.
  • You must have your “transfer pending” I-20 from your new school when you re-enter the United States.
  • You can return to the United States once you have your “transfer pending” I-20. You do not need to wait until 30 days before the program start date.

Visa

  • If your F-1 visa is valid, you can use it to re-enter the United States, even if it lists your previous institution.

Staying in the US

  • If you complete the SEVIS transfer within the required time frame, you are allowed to stay in the United States during the transfer period. You do not need to depart the U.S.

Adapted with permission from Yale University, Office of International Students and Scholars