Can I transfer to another US University before first semester? Transfer in first week? Issues? Many students who come to US intend to transfer to other schools for variety of reasons like funding issues, on campus jobs, go to better university, study with friends, etc. Let me explain you clearly if you can really transfer and what the conditions are. I will caution you what not to do. I was a victim ! This applied to the people who want to change university after getting F1 Visa.
University Transfer and SEVIS Transfer
Can I transfer to another University before First semester or after getting F1 Visa?
Yes, you can, BUT with few conditions! It is usually not recommended by international advisors to suggest you to do this in first semester. Ideally, every university wants you to study first semester in their university and pay some tuition as you came to US with their Visa. Let me caution you, every school policy is different; some may have policy not to do any transfers at all in first semester. So, it depends. If you ask them this question or call them, they will straight away not tell you that you can transfer and they will say, it is recommended that you study with us for the first semester and we do not encourage you. I did call couple of universities and they exactly gave me the same answer. So, there is a big ‘IF’ saying it depends on University. But, if the International advisor thinks and the policy of University is in your favor, you can easily transfer in first week. Let me tell you the conditions now…
Conditions for Transfer of University before First semester :
Here are few conditions that are pretty much mandatory for your transfer
You should be admission to the University you are transferring to with a valid I20.
You should be in United States on F1 Visa and with valid I94.
You should be in proper legal status.
The transferring University you wish to go should be willing to accept your transfer
The classes should not have started at the transferring University you wish to go.
You should not owe any fees to the University you are transferring from.
The University should not have policy to prohibit transfers during first semester.
There might be few more conditions like, your department head at the university you are planning to transfer from might have to approve your transfer. If you meet all the conditions, you are set to ask for a transfer.
How does University transfer work ?
Your status information is maintained in SEVIS(Student and Exchange Visitor Program) records. It has all your legal status info, schools info, when you entered US, etc. When you ask the University to transfer you to anther university, all they do is, they release your SEVIS Info from their school and indicate the transfer school in SEVIS record. When you go the new transfer University, the international advisor again updates your status and you are all set. There is a catch here, the university should properly transfer you in SEVIS system, if not you will end up into problems as explained below.
What you should NOT do ? What can happen if you are not properly transferred ?
Your info should NOT be deleted in SEVIS by the institute you are transferring from. They should do a proper release of your SEVIS record and indicate your transfer University. If they delete your SEVIS record or do something wrong, you will be OUT OF STATUS. This is what exactly happened in my case, I asked for transfer and they denied my transfer, but I insisted for transfer. The international advisor was mad at me and deleted my SEVIS record related to their University and told me that I do not belong to their University anymore. She gave me some paperwork indicating that she deleted the SEVIS record because my transfer was not approved by the department head and herself and the student insisted to transfer. I did not know what I was doing, I asked other advisor and she told “I was out of status at that point of time and I have to reinstate my status at the new University I was transferring to”. I came home and googled info and got scared. It is a long process… To re-instate, at the new transferred university I had to re-apply with all my documents like Bank statements, passport, I94, new I20 and a requisition letter asking to re-instate my status to the USCIS . It is like getting visa second time in US. If USCIS were to deny my re-instatement appeal, I would have had to leave USA and come back home. I did not had Social Security Number and I was not allowed to work because I was out of status for almost 2 to 3 months. It was a big tension for me. Luckily it went well and the people at new University were very supportive and I transferred. Overall, the key point is, do it the right away and clarify if they have released your SEVIS properly for transferring, if not you would be in deep trouble ! Trust me, you do not want to go through all the tension.
Overall, the key point to tell you is, you have to work carefully with University advisors at both universities and seek proper transfer to be in legal status. If not, you might end up in OUT of STATUS can be on the verge of leaving the country due to status issues.