In order to make a transfer between schools while studying on an F1 student visa, you must first make sure that you are in good academic standing with your current school and are enrolled as a full-time student in their program. The school you are transferring to must also be approved by the USCIS. Once these criteria are met, you can begin the transferring process.
The next step in the transfer is to ensure that you obtain some sort of proof of acceptance from the institution you plan on transferring to. Once this is completed, you’ll need to contact a designated school official from the school you plan on attending, and also get in touch with your current school official to inform them of your transfer, who will most likely require you to fill out some sort of paperwork that will release certain information about you and transfer your SEVIS record.
You’ll also need to submit your F1 student visa documents and fee history to the school you’re transferring to, along with possessing a copy of your current I-20, passport, and proof of funds. Also keep in mind your enrollment fees to the new school, along with a possible transfer fee. You must also obtain a new I-20 form from the new school, and report to the school within 15 days of their program’s start date to enroll full-time in the school’s first required session.
If you have completed a school’s curriculum or have been terminated from their program, it is still necessary that your school transfers your SEVIS record to the school you’re transferring to. If the school you’re attending (or previously attended) refuses to transfer this record, you’ll need to get in contact with your new school and work with them to resolve the issue. All schools are required to allow SEVIS record transfers, and cannot refuse transfer for any reason.
If you arrive in the U.S. at your school and decide to transfer immediately to a different school, you still must report to the school that you’ve listed on your I-20 form. The school official will then make a transfer of your SEVIS records to the new school, and sort the rest of the transfer out.
If you make plans to leave the U.S. during your transfer process, you’ll still need to reenter the country with your I-20 form that has the record for your enrollment at the school that you’re currently attending. You must complete your travel plans before your transfer release date with an active I-20 Form from the transfer-out school, or after your transfer release date with an initial I-20 Form from the transfer-in school.
For more information on transferring schools on an F1 student visa please visit the ICE’s information on transfers for F1 students here: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/f_1_transfers.htm