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Transfer to another US University before First semester? Transfer in first week? Issues ?

A good amount of students arriving in US for higher education tend 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 !

Can I transfer to another University before First semester?

Yes, you may, depending on the school’s policy and their consent with few conditions!  It is usually not recommended by international advisors or DSOs 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 ame the same answer. So, there is a big ‘IF’ saying it depends on University. But, if the International advisor or DSO thinks and the policy of University is in your favor, you can easily transfer in first week. Here are some of the conditions…

Conditions for Transfer of University before First semester :

Here are few conditions that are pretty much mandatory for your transfer to happen smoothly

  • 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 seek transfer from DSO and 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. The DSO 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 reinstatement appeal, I would have had to leave USA and come back home.  I did not have 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.

What’s the lesson ?

Overall, the key point to tell you is, you have to work carefully with University advisors / DSO 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. Be Careful !

What was your experience ?


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  1. I am second year student in college in bachelors of public health program then I apply X university in USA with bachelors of computer science it also accept my application, so it have not problem on my visa. please tell me

  2. Hello.
    Currently I have F1 visa stamped from University A and I did not begin my classes. However I want to transfer to University B prior to the beginning of classes. Is it possible to change to University B without beginning of classes in University A. What is the procedure and how much time does it take for transferring ? Please let me know ASAP.
    Thank you.

  3. Hi
    I’m an international student.
    I transferred from a university to a community college after the first semester but unfortunately due to some personal issues I would like to transfer again after being in the community college for only summer semester. Is this advisable?

  4. Hi.

    I have been an International master’s student at University A for 3 semesters but lost my GA due to not meeting the required cutoff plus I’m generally struggling to keep up with the rigor of this particular stem program. I cannot afford to meet up with the financial implications for the next (possibly last) semester. Can I transfer my I-20 to a cheaper University B on a totally different major? Note my visa expires in august but current I-20 is valid through December.

    Best Regards

  5. Hi ,sevis is transferred to new college on Dec 25th 2019,I was on stem OPT ,now I am waiting for CPT authorisation confirmation from new college, in case if the authorization is not confirmed what is the grace period I will have to leave USA

    • Ulio,
      CPT authorization has nothing do with staying. You are on F1 status right ? If you have F1 status at college, you can stay in US. Now, the Day 1 CPT is another different thing, which is subject to so much of fraud….so, check with DSO on this.

  6. hi i have two questions
    1) If I transfer from university A after 1st quarter to University B For the
    Remaining 3 quarters will I get OPT Or I would have to do 4 quarters at
    University B To get OPT
    2 ) I have been Invited for 2 quarters at University A but can I extend it to
    another 2 quarters so that I can complete a full year to get OPT

  7. I was in Univ A and wanted to go to Univ C but a decision did not come early enough. In order to maintain my sevis record, I ended up in Univ B. Now, a decision is in for Univ C, can i transfer without problem all before the end of first semester?

  8. Hey, So I have query about transferring universities. Let me start first by telling this. I am not able to get an admission in some good universities because of my low gpa. I can get in gannon university or CSU San Marcos . But I want to study in some better university(not top 50 n all). So I m thinking about transferring university after one semester. Let me say, want to go in gannon uni to univ of texas at arlington. So, I don’t have i-20 of arlington. How to do procedure ahead? Can I get an admission on the basis of my first sem result ?

    • Well, admission decision depends on many factors, maybe they may consider your first semester scores…but, in general, if you speak to the University and apply as transfer student, you have slightly better chances.

  9. Hi
    I am Sarthak Jain (sarthak.7386@gmail.com)
    I am planning for a transfer from X to Y. I have currently an approved F-1 visa for X. Now, my options are-
    1) Either get a new F1 Visa for Y
    2) Land in US and get a transfer to Y

    For 1), I dont mind spending extra money but my f-1 visa was issued just 10 days back. And now mentioning that I want to go to Y, would it be unacceptable for the VO? Also, if she denies VISA for Y university, would that mean, my VISA for X also would be cancelled automatically?

    For 2), the DSO at X university is perfectly fine to transfer me to Y. Even DSO at Y is co-operative. But DSO at Y mentioned since I am in India, it is preferred to apply for a new F- 1 Visa. Because at the border, telling Immigration officer a lie that I would be going to X (but instead I am planning for a transfer to Y) would create problems. So, let’s say I get a transfer to Y after landing in US, would that create a problem for me if the Immigration Officer comes to know about that? And how could he possibly know about that

    Could you please answer my questions here? Please help.

    • 1. Well, it is upto the discretion of the Visa officer, they have the right to do anything.
      2. It is recommended to stay for one semester in University X and then move to Y to avoid issues as it can be very tricky. Personally, I had issues transferring in first semester as my SEVIS Records were deleted by mistake by first university and had to go through some tough time.

      Each approach has its pros and cons and there is nothing straightforward, you need to make a choice.

      • Thanks for your reply.
        1)Yes, and that’s why I am not going for that option. If she/he rejects my previous VISA too, then I am gone.

        2) Can you please tell what could be the problems? What part are you referring here as the trickiest one?

        Thanks again!

          • Yes! I have read this article multiple times. And it must be a nightmare to go through all that.

            But in my case, the DSOs at X and Y are really co-operative and X university doesn’t have a problem transferring me at all. So in that case, could you think of any problems?

            Also, did you face any problem later on with the Immigration Officer after transferring to another school before the first semester? Let’s say, he checks my documents when I am coming back to US from India after 1 year of MS in the summer break, would the university name mismatch mentioned in the VISA(i.e. for X) n the i20 ( after transferring, this would be for Y) create some problems?

          • If both DSOs are in sync, it should be fine in my view.
            No, I have not faced any issues anytime with immigration officers. No, it will not… University name does not matter, after you have enrolled and return and go back. it is the first time, when you enter US is when it matters.

          • Ok. That helps.

            When you mention the first time, you mean when we enter US? Because for that, I have all documents ready for X university. Obviously, I am not going to reveal my transfer plan to the Immigration Officer.

            But I am also wondering about travelling after the transfer when we would be going to Y university via X city’s airport. If I am being too vague, I am sorry in advance.
            But would I have to face the Immigration Officer at any stage when I am going from X university airport to Y?

          • Yes.It does not matter after you report at X and then transfer to Y. No, You will go via domestic airport and will not go through immigration when you travel within US.

        • Hello Sarthak, Kumar,

          @Kumar thanks for your insights.
          @Sarthak Can you please share your experience? positives and negatives if any, suggestions?
          I am stuck in the exactly same situation right now. your experience will help me in this situation.

    • Hello Sarthak, Kumar,

      @Kumar thanks for your insights.
      @Sarthak Can you please share your experience? positives and negatives if any, suggestions?
      I am stuck in the exactly same situation right now. your experience will help me in this situation.

  10. I am trying to tranfer to LaGuardia Community College where the classes starts from March. I tried taking my transfer from previous university but they told me that I will be out of status if they transfer my SEVIS to LaGuardia because accourding to my SEVIS I need to be taking my classes before March. I just completed my 1st semester in previous university in December 2017 and my classes starts in March 2018 in LaGuardia. I am already accepted by LaGuardia. The only thing I want to know is, is it trie Inwill be out of state just because my classes will start in March???

    • Bickey,
      You should check with DSO at both the schools. It is always the ultimate decision of both the schools on your transfer. If you do anything out of their guidelines you may be out of status, so check with them and be careful.

  11. hi,
    i have got an admission in university A and course A,i have got my visa stamped and after getting in to us can i change to university B with course B.what I am basically asking is can we change university and major at the same time

  12. I’m currently in the US on an f1 visa since may but i did not report to the school at all due to financial challenges. I have deferred my admission till spring but. I dont know if i will be affected since i have been in the US for so long without reporting to the school. What do i do pls?

  13. After BE I went to ASU for pursuing PhD in industrial engineering.But in 1st semester I failed to score 3gpa.As my scholarship was stopped and I have to pay nearly 13 lakh to continue my program I have to come back .Is there any chance that I can apply again and get a chance in another University in USA.

    • Well, you can try again applying. But, you will probably need to answer that question again, when you go for visa stamping. Not able to maintain 3 GPA is not good, unless there is a strong reason and you can defend it…

  14. I have done my visa interview and rejected thrice on the same university now i want to go for another university should i go with another university or i have to apply in next intake pls pls reply what should i do

  15. Hi
    I have got an admission from University of A and I’m done with my visa for this university. But, now I’ve got admissions from University B and I want to attend this university. How can I transfer to university B before start of first semester without attending visa again? Should I have to pay the admission fee for university A and get enrolled in classes and later will they repay the money if I get transferred to university B?

    Thank you.

  16. Hi , I have got I-20 from university of pittsburgh and have completed my biometric for visa . Now i think it will be better if i go to Oregon state university . My start date in pittsburgh is 14 august while that of oregon is 11 september. Is it possible and wise to transfer sevis ? Both courses are phd computer science

  17. Hello,
    I transferred to another university after spending 2 semester at a different university. Since I changed my major, I wasn’t able to transfer all credits. Due to this my graduation will get extended by 1 long semester (Dec 2017 instead of May 2017). Will it affect me negatively in the future? I have taken proper care while transferring my SEVIS id and have been maintaining F1 status at all times. Any response will be very helpful. Thanks!

  18. Hi,

    I had my visa issued for university A but they are saying that I have been put in their waitlist. It’s so strange that a university puts a student in their waitlist even after the issuence of i20. Unluckily If I didn’t get seat on the university can I still go to USA and study in another university? Does initial transfer work here?

  19. Hi
    I have got an admission from University of A and applied for student visa. My interview with the embassy was good and my visa will be approved between 4 to 8 weeks. But, a few days ago I got fellowship from University of B and I want to attend this university. How can I transfer to university of B before start of first semester?

    Thank you.

    • Reza,
      You have two options, you go for stamping again with University B and enter US with University B visa or You go to US with your current visa to University A and request for Transfer before start of the first semester by consulting DSO….Not many schools encourage the idea of leaving the school before completion of first semester, but it can be done, if the University A allows you. Worst case scenario, you will need to study for one semester at University A and then transfer to Univ B after first semester, you will need to ask Univ B to defer the award for next semester in that case. You can check with DSO at University B to get more clarity on your situation.

    • Hi .. I am also in the same situation.
      Can you please tell me what did you do?
      Please please help me with your reply. Really need that on urgent basis.
      Thank you

  20. Hello,
    I am currently studying at a college in North Carolina on a F1 visa. In December I have to go and go home and extend my visa as I wasn’t able to graduate in 2 years. I am pretty unhappy with my current college because they keep changing major requirements which is why I wasn”t able to graduate in 2 years. I want to transfer to another college in Texas when I go and apply to extend my visa. Would that be a problem? The fact that I’m transfering schools? Also, let’s say they extend my visa for 1 year, how do I apply for OPT? At my current school they told me that I can only do a change of status but there isn’t a way to get a visa for OPT. I would like to know if there is a visa for OPT as I would like to be able to go home and come back whenever I want to. Thank you and have a wonderful day!

  21. Hello , I just want some information regarding my re-instatement.
    I came to university A with visa stamp and asked for immediate transfer since i did not like the university.They terminated my SEVIS and then I got an admission in university B and applied for re-instatement and got approved from USCIS and back to F1 status now. Now I am on my CPT working and will complete my masters by May 2017.
    I am planning to go to INDIA in Feb 2017. I just wanted to know is it safe to travel and re-enter since I have been re-instated. I have all the documents taht i have sent to USCIS for reinstatement , mail conversations with old and new university , I20 docuemnts , Reinstated I20. Will I have a stringent immigration by CBP officer?? and please do let me know is it risky??
    and also I have my visa stamped on university A , while I am studying in University B. Please do let em know as soon as possible. Thank you so much in reading and replying me. Looking forward for your reply asap.Thank you.


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