If you are J-1 status: Be aware that you can only transfer as J-1 status if you are coming to the University of Iowa to study in either the same degree level (such as Bachelor’s to Bachelor’s degree) or a higher level (such as Bachelor’s to Master’s degree). It is not possible for a J-1 student to transfer to a “lower” degree level at a new school.

Transfer steps:

  • First you need to be officially admitted to the University of Iowa.
  • Once you have your letter showing admission, you must meet with the international student advisor at your current school. Let them know you will attend the University of Iowa for the next session and need to arrange the transfer of your SEVIS (immigration) record. Your international advisor will set what is called a “transfer release date.”
  • Your current school will arrange for your SEVIS record to electronically transfer according to one of these scenarios:
    • If you are still enrolled and finishing your current session, the transfer release date will occur right after the current session ends.
    • If it is currently a break and you are not enrolled, such as winter or summer break, your school should be able to transfer your SEVIS record immediately.
    • If you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT), talk to your international advisor about the best time to transfer. If your OPT is still valid when your SEVIS record is transferred, it means you must immediately stop your OPT employment; be sure you choose the right transfer release date.
    • If you are currently waiting for reinstatement at your current school, you will not be able to transfer to the University of Iowa until the reinstatement process is completed.
  • Once the SEVIS record is transferred, the University of Iowa will then be able to issue your new I-20/DS-2019 for you. This will allow you to attend classes during the next session.
    • In some cases, this might mean the I-20/DS-2019 cannot be produced until just before you are expected to arrive at the University of Iowa for orientation (for example, if you are enrolled in summer classes at your current school, or working on OPT until the last minute). In such cases it may be possible to arrange to pick the new I-20/DS-2019 up when you arrive on the UI campus for orientation, as long as you are not traveling outside the U.S.


You will not need to pay a new SEVIS fee if you are transferring your SEVIS record to the University of Iowa and have been maintaining your status.

F-1/J-1 Visa

You will only need to apply for a new visa if your current visa has expired and you plan on traveling outside the U.S. before attending the University of Iowa. Your visa is still valid if it has your current school listed on it. Your visa was issued for your SEVIS ID number which typically does not change due to transfer.

Travel outside the U.S. for F-1 Students

If you plan to travel outside the United States, time the transfer to take this into account:

  • Which I-20 to use for re-entry to the US:
    • Travel started and completed before the transfer release date – enter with I-20 from your current school
    • Travel started and completed after the transfer release date – enter with I-20 from the University of Iowa
  • If you will be arriving more than 30 days before the program start date on your new I-20: You will need to show your most recent I-20 from your current school and your new I-20 for the University of Iowa when re-entering the U.S.

Employment at the University of Iowa for F-1 Students

Transfer can affect your eligibility to work on campus either at your current school or the University of Iowa, because regulations allow on-campus employment only at the school whose I-20 is covering you. You may begin employment on campus at the University of Iowa as soon as your SEVIS release date passes and you have received your new University of Iowa I-20.

If you have any questions about your SEVIS transfer, please email isss-orientation@uiowa.edu.