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Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of International Services

Visa Basics > F-1 Transfer Process

F-1 Transfer Process

If you are currently enrolled as an F-1 student at another institution in the United States (or if you are on post-completion Optional Practical Training based on your enrollment at another U.S. institution), and intend to begin studies at Teachers College, you will need to complete a transfer of your F-1 immigration status.

The F-1 transfer process must be followed by any F-1 student who is currently in F-1 status at one U.S. institution (or who is currently on post-completion Optional Practical Training) and who intends to begin a new full-time program of study at another U.S. institution.  In this case, the F-1 student must complete the transfer process and apply for a new Form I-20 from his/her new institution.

1.  Notify your current International Student Advisor of your intention to enroll at Teachers College.  If you are admitted to Teachers College and intend to enroll, you must notify your international student advisor at current school that you intend to begin studies at Teachers College. Download a Teachers College Transfer Form (PDF file 29KB) which needs to be completed by your current school. This form is used to facilitate the electronic transfer of your F-1 SEVIS record from your current school to Teachers College.

The section marked "To the student" must be completed by you. The section marked "To be completed by the Designated School Official" must be completed by an international student advisor at your current school. That office then submits the completed form to the Office of International Services at Teachers College. Our fax number is at the bottom of the form. Only after your electronic SEVIS record has been released to Teachers College will we be able to issue you a transfer I-20. This I-20 must be processed within 60 days of the Release Date. Be sure that you have submitted an Application for Visa Certificate (AVC) and all required documents to our office.

2.  If you have travel plans outside of the U.S. before beginning your studies at TC, you must let us know your travel plans and departure date. You must present your Teachers College I-20 at the port-of-entry when you return to the U.S., as well as an F-1 visa and copies of your admission letter and financial documents.

3.  Upon your arrival at Teachers College, you must report to to the OIS in L5 Whittier Hall. Bring the following documents with you:

  •     all previous I-20s and any EADs (e.g., work authorization for Optional Practical Training);
  •     your passport;
  •     your I-94 card
  •     Your dependent(s) I-20(s) and passport(s), if applicable.

Be sure to attend one of the F-1 Visa Orientation Workshops held at the beginning of each semester.

4.  No later than 15 days from the start of classes, bring a copy of your Teachers College course schedule for the new semester showing full-time registration (12 credits, or the equivalent) and current U.S. address. We will then complete the transfer process by notifying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that you are now a full-time student at Teachers College. Your transfer is not complete until this electronic notification has been processed and a new I-20 for "continued attendance" has been issued to you.

If you have not maintained F-1 status at your previous institution, you are not eligible to transfer your F-1 status. we will provide you with information about applying to USCIS for "Reinstatement to F-1 Status" or other options for returning to valid F-1 status.

F-1 Transfer FAQs


Q. I went to school in the U.S. and graduated over a year ago. I left the United States after I finished. Do I still need to do a transfer process?

The F-1 Transfer Process must be completed by anyone who is currently 'active' as an F-1 student: this means that you must be currently enrolled (or within 60 days of your completion of studies) at another school, or currently engaged in F-1 post-completion OPT (or within 60 days of your OPT expiration / completion date). If you completed a program at another US institution but are no longer active, then it is most likely that you will not do a transfer process. You will need a new I-20 for 'initial attendance' instead.

Q. I am currently doing post-completion Optional Practical Training based on my previous degree. Can I still use my OPT once my SEVIS record is transferred to you?

No. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance indicates that OPT is terminated once your F-1 SEVIS record is transferred from one school to another. For example, if your current school transfers your F-1 SEVIS record to us on June 1 even though your TC program does not begin until September 1, your OPT is invalid as of June 1. If you wish to continue working on OPT, you should tell your current international student advisor to transfer your F-1 record to TC only after you wish to terminate your OPT employment.
Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: