J-1 Transfer

J-1 Transfer

A J-1 student may find it necessary to transfer his/her immigration sponsorship from one Exchange Visitor program to another. This type of transfer requires close consultation between the different Exchange Visitor programs and the student. This section describes certain typical transfer scenarios.


Eligibility Requirements for a J-1 Transfer

A J-1 student may transfer between different Exchange Visitor programs only if:

  • the student's current Exchange Visitor program grants approval for the transfer
  • the student's new Exchange Visitor program indicates their willingness to assume sponsorship of the student
  • the academic objectives of the current and new program are substantially similar

It may not be possible for a student to transfer between programs if he/she intends to engage in a significantly different academic or program objective. For example, a J-1 student currently in a psychology program cannot transfer to a new J-1 sponsor in order to begin a program of study in art.

Persons currently in the United States as J-1 Exchange Visitors in a non-student category (e.g., J-1 research scholar, J-1 teacher, J-1 specialist, etc.) are generally ineligible to transfer to a J-1 program to pursue full-time studies. Switching from a non-student to student category requires U.S. Department of State approval. Such approval is difficult to obtain and is not guaranteed. Consult with the OIS at tcintl@tc.columbia.edu with specific information regarding your situation, if you believe this may apply to you.


Teachers College Requirements for Assuming J-1 Sponsorship

Many students under the sponsorship of a Fulbright or related program seek to transfer to Teachers College's Exchange Visitor program. This may be necessary in the following circumstances:

  • the terms of the existing sponsorship is limited in time and duration, and the student requires additional time to continue his/her current program
  • the terms of the existing sponsorship is limited to a particular degree level or objective, and the student is moving to a higher degree level in the same or similar field of study

In order to initiate a transfer of your J-1 sponsorship to TC, follow this procedure:

  1. Consult with a Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer with your current Exchange Visitor program to determine specific requirements and deadlines for transferring your J-1 sponsorship to Teachers College.
  2. Submit an Application for Visa Cerficate (AVC) that you can find on our website under 'Forms' 'Visa Related: Incoming Students/Scholars', along with all required documents, to the OIS. The OIS is required to review your eligibility for transfer, including your financial resources.
  3. If the OIS determines that you are eligible for TC sponsorship as a J-1 student, we will issue a written notification to your current J-1 sponsor to indicate our willingness to assume sponsorship of your immigration status.

The transfer process is handled electronically, via the SEVIS database system.  Your sponsor will need to 'release' your J-1 SEVIS record to Teachers College Exchange Visitor Program P-1-00189.  Note: your program sponsor may or may not be able to release your record immediately. For students under Fulbright sponsorship, in particular, the decision to approve a transfer is made by your home-country Fulbright Commission. Depending on their time table, this process may take a few days to several months. For this reason, close consultation between all parties is required.

Upon receiving notification that your J-1 SEVIS record has been transferred to Teachers College, your J-1 record will be updated and new Form DS-2019(s) will be issued to you (and any J-2 dependents). The Form DS-2019 will reflect your new program dates, field of study, and financial resources.


After the Transfer: Special Notes

  • Once TC has issued a Form DS-2019 in your name, you are under the sponsorship of TC's Exchange Visitor program, and must comply with TC's J-1 regulations and policies, as outlined in this web site and relevant written materials.
  • If you were previous subject to the two-year home residency requirement, the transfer process does not remove your obligation to meet the requirement; the requirement is still in placed, regardless of what is indicated on any future Form DS-2019s and/or entry visas issued on the basis of TC's sponsorship.
  • If you are transferring from a U.S.-government sponsored Exchange Visitor program (indicated by a program code starting with "G," such as G-1-0001) to Teachers College, you are required to pay the U.S. government's $200 I-901 SEVIS fee upon completion of the transfer process and before applying for a new J-1 visa. Consult the OIS for more information regarding the I-901 SEVIS fee.
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