Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining F-1 Student Status at Columbia

Important Information for Students Fully Funded
by Columbia University

Transfer of F-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Message for Canadian Students

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Maintaining F-1 Status

Academic Certification for Travel

F-1 Travel Information

Govt Q & A for F-1 Travel

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

F-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

F-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program

F-1 Reinstatement

F-1 Work Opportunities

F-1 Practical Training (PT) Overview

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Optional PT Before Degree Completion

F-1 Optional PT After Degree Completion

NEW STEM 24-month OPT extension

F-1 Internship with an International Organization

F-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

F-1 Reduced Course Load Request

Inviting Relatives/Friends to Visit You

Address Change Form

Applying for a Social Security Number

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:

  • You are in the middle of a degree program and are leaving that program to begin at Columbia.
  • You are in the 3-2 engineering program.
  • You will have completed a degree program at your current institution and will begin a new degree program at Columbia.
  • You are currently authorized for OPT from another school and will begin a new degree program at Columbia.

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
The ISSO will create your I-20 and send it to you. If you are traveling or moving during the break before coming to Columbia, remember to update the ISSO with your current address so the I-20 is sent to the correct location.

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
To complete the SEVIS transfer process, you must report your arrival upon your return to the U.S. from abroad or when you come to Columbia if you haven't left the U.S. between schools. Submit the online SEVIS report Form for New F-1 and J-1 Arrivals. You DO NOT have to come to the ISSO in person to report your arrival. Columbia is required to report your arrival and update your SEVIS record from initial to active status to complete the transfer process. This MUST be done no later than 15 days after the start date on your I-20.

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
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office