Questions from Designated School Officials: Traveling Transfer Students
Questions from Designated School Officials is a blog series on Study in the States for designated school officials (DSOs). Each month, we will answer a question that will help you advise your F and/or M students. If you are a DSO and would like to submit a question, you can email us or ask us via social media, your Field Representative or the SEVP Response Center. We may edit questions for clarity and consistency and may not feature all submissions on Study in the States.
Question: Can an F-1 student who is transferring to a different school still travel outside of the United States? How should a DSO help the student prepare?
Answer: Yes. A student in the process of transferring to another school may travel outside of the United States.
If the DSO at the student’s transfer-out school already transferred the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to the transfer-in school, the DSO at the transfer-in school must first accept the record and issue the student a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” The DSO at the transfer-in school must sign the new Form I-20. The student must have this active Form I-20 to re-enter the United States.
If the DSO at the transfer-in school does not yet have access to the student’s SEVIS record before the student travels, the student must have a signed, active Form I-20 from the transfer-out school.
An F-1 student whose transfer release date arrives while the student is out of the country must re-enter the United States with the signed Form I-20 from the DSO at the transfer-in school. If possible, have the transfer release date adjusted to before the student’s departure so the student can leave the United States with the Active Form I-20. If this is not possible, the student and DSO at the transfer-in school should make arrangements to send the new, Initial Form I-20 to the student before the anticipated return date. In sending the student the new Form I-20, the DSO may want to include a cover letter on school letterhead explaining the difference between the school identified on the student’s visa and the school issuing the Form I-20.
You should remind your F-1 students to hand-carry (do not put in checked luggage) their important documents when they travel.