Qualifying for Transfer

  1. First apply to another U.S. school and get fully admitted to that school.
  2. Before the new school can issue an I-20 or DS-2019 for you, you must follow the instructions in the section below. Transfer allows you to retain the same SEVIS number you currently have.
  3. After the transfer release date arrives, the new school will be able to access your SEVIS record and issue a new I-20 or DS-2019, which will state “transfer pending,” for you to attend there.
  4. If you have F-2 or J-2 dependent(s) their immigration record will transfer automatically along with your primary F-1/ J-1 record.


  1. Login to your iHawk account (click the blue login button) using your HawkID and password.
  2. Go to "F-1 Student Services" or "J-1 Student Services" and complete the "Transfer Out Request" e-form.
  3. After you submit your request, visit ISSS walk-in advising hours to meet with an ISSS advisor. An ISSS advisor will review your request, and if there are no questions, schedule the transfer of your SEVIS record to your new school. An e-mail will be sent confirming your transfer out request has been approved.

Transfer Release Date

Your new school cannot make a new I-20/DS-2019 for you until the University of Iowa “releases” your immigration records in SEVIS to the new school. To do this, you/we must specify a “release date,” whereupon the UI will no longer be able to access or change your records, and you will then fall under the jurisdiction of the new school.

  • The transfer release date is typically the day after the final date of the current semester, as per federal immigration rules.
  • Students who request transfers in between semesters have more flexibility to choose the transfer release date. Speak to the ISSS Advisor about your plans.
  • Students on OPT should not request transfer until they know they will be finished working - see the section on OPT below.
  • Students who graduate or complete their program of study at the UI and then wish to transfer to a new school without doing OPT, the transfer must be requested:
    • Either during their last semester at the UI and follow the process outlined above, or
    • Within 60 days following the completion date of the last semester.
      Please be aware that ISSS cannot transfer your SEVIS record after that 60 day window ends, and you would then have to obtain a new Initial I-20 from your new school and leave the U.S. to obtain a new visa.

Students on OPT: If you are on OPT and wish to transfer to another school, please 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 because you plan to stop working early. 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 an 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 a 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, have 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 a 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 are 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.

If you are a new student in J-1 status, you cannot transfer to another school until you have attended at least one semester at the University of Iowa.

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.

Other Issues to Consider

  • If you have not yet completed your program, notify your academic advisor of your intent to leave the University of Iowa.
  • If you are a student and are registered for the next term, remember to work with the Registrar and withdraw your enrollment. Otherwise, you will still be responsible for the tuition even if you begin studying at another school.
  • If you live off campus and your lease has not ended, contact your landlord to cancel or sublet your lease and fulfill any move-out obligations. Remember to cancel services such as gas, electric, water, phone, cable.
  • If you live on-campus, contact the Housing Office to determine your move-out date and obligations
  • Check your University of Iowa U-Bill account for any bills to pay and contact the University Billing Office with questions
  • Go to the U.S. Post Office and complete a form to have your mail forwarded or visit the U.S. Post Office online and enter your “change of address” information online. The U.S. Post Office may not forward mail to a non-U.S. address.