Your new school cannot make an I-20 for you until the University of Iowa “releases” your immigration records in SEVIS to the new school. To do this, we must specify a “release date,” whereupon the UI will no longer be able to access or change your records, and they will then fall under the jurisdiction of the new school.
Students with Active SEVIS records:
According to the immigration regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(8)(ii)(C), the release date must be “the current semester or session completion date, or the date of expected transfer if earlier than the established academic cycle.” For instance, students who graduate in May must use the last day of the spring semester as the release date, we cannot choose a later date. Students who decide to transfer while in between semesters of study may be more flexible in choosing the transfer release date. This will be decided in consultation with your ISSS advisor. Please be advised you must start your new program and begin classes within five months from the last day you were enrolled at the University of Iowa.
Students Who Graduate From the University of Iowa
If you graduate or complete your program of study at the UI and then wish to transfer to a new school (as opposed to transferring to a new school before you complete your studies at the UI), you should be aware that the transfer must be requested either during your last semester at the UI, or within 60 days following the completion date of your last semester.
Students on OPT: If you are on OPT and wish to transfer to another school, you should be aware that once the transfer release date arrives, your OPT eligibility automatically comes to an end. This is because on the transfer release date, your SEVIS records are sent to the new school and are no longer under the jurisdiction of the University of Iowa. Because your OPT authorization is tied to you being a student at the University of Iowa, once your records are transferred, you are no longer a student here and your OPT eligibility ends.
If your OPT end date occurs before classes at the new school begins, this date should be your transfer release date, unless you request an earlier date. Please be aware that you must request and be approved for a transfer release no later than 60 days following the completion of your OPT. If your OPT would not yet be expired by the time classes at the new school begin and you wish to continue your OPT employment until the latest possible date, you will need to discuss your transfer release date with the ISSS advisor. You will be instructed to contact the Admissions office at your new school to discuss the latest date they would be able to issue your transfer I-20.
Initial Students: An initial student is new F-1 student with an initial SEVIS record. If you are an initial student who has applied for a visa using your I-20 from the University of Iowa, has not yet entered the U.S. to start your program, and who has changed your mind about attending the University of Iowa and wants to attend another school, you are strongly advised to apply for an new F-1 visa using the I-20 from the school you intend to attend and entering the U.S. on those documents.
If you an initial student who has already entered the U.S. using your UI I-20 but have not started your program, and you have decided you want to attend another U.S. school and have received an admission offer, you must first report in person to ISSS with all immigration documents as well as your admission letter for the new school. You should report no later than the program start date listed on your I-20. Please be advised that in order for our office to release your SEVIS record to the new school, your program start date at the new school must occur no later than 30 days after you enter the U.S. or your program start date at the University of Iowa, whichever is earliest.
Canceling the Transfer Release Date
ISSS can cancel or change your transfer plans any time up until the release date arrives. After the release date arrives, we have no further control over your SEVIS record, and you will then have to work with the new school if you wish to change your plans. For this reason, you need to remember the transfer release date that we choose during your appointment, which will be noted below, and request any changes BEFORE that date arrives.
Employment Eligibility for Transfer Students
Transfer can affect your eligibility to work either on the University of Iowa campus or on the campus of the new school, because regulations allow on-campus employment only at the school whose I-20 is covering you. In other words, a student who chooses June 1 as a transfer release date cannot work on the UI campus after June 1. The student would, however, be able to begin employment on the campus of the new school as soon as the release date passes and they receive the new I-20.
Eligibility to Apply for CPT, OPT, etc. at New School
Students must stop all employment authorized by the University of Iowa by their SEVIS release date. Transfer students may be eligible for such benefits of F-1 status like being able to apply for CPT, OPT, etc. at the new school without having enrolled there for an additional academic year, provided they had maintained status (including registering full-time) for an entire academic year at the University of Iowa. However, policies do vary between schools and you are advised to consult with your new school’s international office to determine your eligibility for these work authorizations.