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Initial Student Transfer Process

Background

Stakeholders note concerns regarding when a new student requests to transfer to another school or program prior to the program start date or soon after beginning a program of study.

Government Response

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) continues to engage with stakeholders via conference presentations and working group meetings to discuss concerns about the student transfer process, particularly situations where new Initial students immediately transfer to another school upon arrival to the United States.

SEVP shares stakeholder concerns regarding the number of Initial student transfers. The existing regulations, designed to protect international students from undesirable situations, allow students to transfer to a new program upon arrival if the student is able to begin the new course of study within 30 days of arrival. 

This means that a designated school official (DSO) cannot refuse to transfer a student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record, nor can a DSO terminate a student’s SEVIS record because of a transfer request. SEVIS records are government property and thus a DSO cannot refuse to transfer SEVIS records even for financial or business reasons. 

However, academic records (i.e., student transcripts) are not government property. Therefore, the decision to transfer academic information is strictly a matter of school policy, although new students may not yet have an academic record. 

Please note that if a school initially refuses to transfer a student’s SEVIS record and the transfer-in school notifies SEVP of the situation, the program must step in to enforce the regulation. The process SEVP must follow in these cases could delay the transfer process. The SEVP Response Center must gather pertinent documentation and refer the case to the program’s compliance section. From there, SEVP’s compliance section notifies the transfer-out school that it has two weeks to transfer the student’s SEVIS record to the transfer-in school. If the transfer-out school does not comply, SEVP will force the record transfer in SEVIS and place the school under compliance scrutiny.