Transfer by F-1 Students to Columbia University
If you are currently in F-1 status from another U.S. institution and intend to begin your studies at Columbia University, you are considered a "Transfer Student" by the ISSO for the purposes of issuing an I-20. A transfer of the supervision of your F-1 status from your old or current school to Columbia University is required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). You will be considered a transfer student if one of the following applies to you:
Students doing a joint degree program between Columbia and an institution overseas are not considered transfer students by DHS.
There are three steps required to complete the transfer process.
Step 1. Request Transfer and Submit Documents to ISSO
Once you have learned of your admission to Columbia and have accepted the offer, you will need to submit the online Application for Visa Certificate and submit the required documentation as explained in the online AVC instructions. You will also need to notify your current international student advisor of your intention to transfer to Columbia.
Download the Transfer-in form and complete Section 1. You should bring this with you when you meet with your international student advisor. When you meet with the advisor, you will determine the release date of your SEVIS record so they can do the transfer-out procedure. The release date is the date that your SEVIS record will become available to the ISSO. The ISSO is not able to issue your I-20 before the release date.
In choosing a release date, keep in mind that if you are engaged in OPT from your current school before coming to Columbia, choose a date AFTER you complete your employment. OPT authorization will automatically end on the release date.
The transfer-out procedure must be requested within 60 days of completing your program at your current school though the actual release date may be later. If you plan to travel outside the U.S. (i.e. if you have a release date of August 15 and are planning to re-enter the U.S. on August 20), be sure to allow enough time to receive your Columbia transfer I-20 before you return.
Your international student advisor will complete Section 2 of the transfer-in form and return it to Columbia.
Step 2. Wait for your I-20 and prepare for arrival in New York
If you plan to travel outside the U.S. after completing your studies at your previous institution but before starting your program at Columbia, you must use Columbia's I-20 to re-enter the U.S. If you have a valid, unexpired F-1 visa in your passport, you do not need to apply for a new visa. You may use the visa you have, even though the previous school's name is on it. If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa but you are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again. Go to the SEVIS SEVIS fee website for confirmation that you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.
If you are not planning to leave the U.S. before arriving at Columbia, you will simply receive the I-20 and report to the ISSO upon arrival.
Step 3. Complete the Transfer Process
You are required to register for full-time studies at Columbia in the first available term after leaving your previous school or the first term after the summer vacation period.
Last Reviewed: 20 July 2014 Last modified: 20 July 2014