School Transfer

What is a School Transfer?
In accordance with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS),  a “school transfer” is the process that allows an international student to leave one U.S. institution (before or after program completion) to attend another U.S. institution. A school transfer, with regard to immigration, does not refer to the transfer of academic credits or records between institutions.

Transfer Eligibility
Students in F-1 or J-1 status are eligible to transfer to or from St. Thomas University if they:
  • Have been admitted and are eligible for a SEVIS document (I-20 or DS-2019, for F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status, respectively);
  • Are maintaining current non-immigrant status;
  • Are currently enrolled full-time, between semesters, or participating in approved CPT/academic training.
  • Are enrolled at STU within 5 months of last attendance at the previous school.

Note: If you have violated the terms of your F-1 status, it is recommended that you depart the U.S. to make a new entry with an initial attendance I-20. Immigration reinstatement is only possible if your failure to maintain status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Contact the International Student Advisor at your current school or the STU International Student & Scholar office to discuss your situation. 

Transfer to St. Thomas University
  1. Student is admitted to St. Thomas and receives the following from the Office of admissions:
    1. Transfer Eligibility Form 
    2. International Student Financial Statement
  2. Student informs current International Student Advisor of intent to transfer to St. Thomas University
  3. International Advisor at the “transfer out” school enters the transfer request into SEVIS database and sets the SEVIS Release Date
    1. SEVIS Release Date is the date on which St. Thomas University will obtain access to the student’s SEVIS record. On that date, the “transfer out” school will no longer have access to the student’s SEVIS record.
    2. SEVIS Release Date is usually the end of the current semester or the end of the student’s last semester at that school, but the date should be determined according to the student’s circumstances and needs.
  4. St. Thomas issues a new I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) 

Transfer from St. Thomas University
  1. Student should receive information from the new school’s International Student Advisor; typically should include transfer eligibility form and letter of admissions to new school.
  2. Student in forms St. Thomas International Student Advisor of:
    1. intent to transfer
    2. Name of school to which s/he will transfer (“transfer in” school)
  3. St. Thomas International Student Advisor determines transfer eligibility, completes transfer form, enters transfer request into SEVIS database, and sets the SEVIS Release Date.
  4. “Transfer in” school issues a new I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1).

Transition to St. Thomas University
Transfer student who remain in the U.S. between institutions:
  • Must enroll at St. Thomas in the semester immediately following previous school’s last semester, summer vacation, or practical training.
  • Will receive the St. Thomas SEVIS form upon campus arrival; it will not be mailed in advance.

Transfer students who will travel abroad and re-enter U.S. prior to start of studies at St. Thomas University:
  • Request the new SEVIS form prior to departure from the U.S. If not possible, SEVIS form will be sent to the foreign address.
  • If the current visa (F-1/J-1) is valid (unexpired), a new visa is not required even if the visa carries the name of the previous school.
  • U.S. reentry is possible with the St. Thomas issued SEVIS form, valid passport, and valid visa
  • If a new visa is needed for reentry, the transfer student must apply using the St. Thomas SEVIS form and financial documentation.

Transfer Timeframe
Transfer must be done within the deadlines established by USCIS; otherwise the student will be “out of status”
  • F-1 60-Day Grace Period or J-1 30-Day Grace Period: Transfer must be initiated within the grace period following completion of study or practical/academic training; the student is eligible for transfer through the end of the grace period.
  • 5-Month Start-Date Limit: Student must start new school within 5 months of SEVIS Release Date or program completion date.

Special Transfers
  • St. Thomas University requires international students to report to ISSS and be registered in SEVIS before initiating subsequent transfer request, subject to approval by ISSS and specific academic department.
  • Students who enter the U.S. on I-20s for ESL must attend at least one semester of that program.