Universities are required to inform US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of all F-1 transfers from one school to another, regardless of whether or not the student intends to travel outside of the United States. An F-1 transfer means that you entered the U.S. and enrolled on one school’s I-20, and you are changing to the I-20 of another school.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(8)(i)
- The start date at your new school must be within 5 months of your "transfer out" date in SEVIS or your program completion, whichever is earlier (applies only to students who already have completed a semester at George Mason);
- You must currently be maintaining F-1 status;
- If you have already graduated, you must be within your 60-day grace period.
Transfer to George Mason University
You must first be admitted to George Mason University BEFORE you can transfer your F-1 record to George Mason University. You must complete the F-1 Student Transfer Eligibility Form, notify the school you are currently attending of your intent to transfer to George Mason University and submit supporting documents. In addition, you must complete F1 International Student Check-in here no later than 15 days after the start date indicated on your GMU I-20 to complete the transfer process.
Transfer to Another School
You must first apply and be accepted to the new school BEFORE you can request a transfer from George Mason University to another school in the US. You may transfer your F-1 status at the end of the current semester, upon completion of your studies, or during/after finishing OPT. You may transfer during your post-completion OPT grace period. If you request a transfer and will begin your study before the OPT end date, the remainder of your OPT will be cancelled.
Transfer Out in Initial Status
- Students are eligible to transfer to another school without enrolling at George Mason first if they meet the following requirements:
- Entered the U.S. with George Mason’s I-20
- Have a program start date at the new school that is no more than 30 days after entering the U.S. with the George Mason I-20
- Submitted transfer out documents to George Mason
- Admission letter from new school showing a valid program start date (no more than 30 days after entering the U.S with the George Mason I-20. If the admission letter does not show a start date, the student’s school must send written confirmation that the student can start studies within 30 days of entry
- Transfer In Form from new school
- George Mason Transfer Out Form
- Completed F1 online check-in https://oips.gmu.edu/international-student-check-in-form/ by uploading F1 visa, passport, I-94, and completing the online check-in form, including submission of an accurate U.S. address
Important Note: The U.S. government guidance states that “After entry, the student may decide to attend a different SEVP-certified school.”
- A strict interpretation of this guidance would mean that if you are still outside of the U.S., you should ask your new school to issue an initial I-20 to you so that you can update your visa. After you have your new I-20, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to cancel your George Mason I-20.
- If you decide to enter the U.S. with the George Mason I-20, please contact us about the Transfer Out in Initial Status process after your entry.
Transfer to George Mason University Checklist
1. Download and complete section A of the F-1 Student Transfer Eligibility form
2. Ask a Designated School Official (DSO) at your current school to complete section B
2. Notify the school you are currently attending of your intent to transfer to George Mason University. Your current immigration advisor will update your SEVIS record to indicate your intent to transfer to GMU and will enter a “transfer release date”. On that date your SEVIS record will become accessible to GMU’s Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS).
3. Submit the completed F-1 Student Transfer Eligibility Form and documents listed below to George Mason. In most cases, you will submit the form to the Office of Admissions. See the form for detailed instructions.
List of documents to submit with completed F1 Transfer Eligibility Form:
- Copy of passport identification pages, showing expiration date
- Copy of most recent visa in passport
- Copy of I-94 card
- Copies of all I-20s issued to you by previous schools
- Complete F1 Check-in (see the link in the Reminder section below) no later than 15 days after the start date indicated on your GMU I-20 to complete the transfer process. Bring all immigration and travel documents with you.
Students who transfer to Mason must complete check-in within 15 days of the start date listed on your Transfer-Pending I-20. After you have checked in, you will be notified when your Continued Attendance I-20 is ready for pick up. This indicates your SEVIS record has been registered and the transfer in process has been completed.
Link to International Student Check-in Form: https://oips.gmu.edu/international-student-check-in-form/
Important: A hold will be put on the account of students who fail to check in with OIPS.