There are several reasons that, at some point, you may need to transfer your visa sponsorship from Smith to another institution. In these situations, it's always a good idea to talk with the staff of the ISSO about the potential effects of transferring upon your work eligibility, ability to travel internationally, and visa status.
In these cases, it's often easiest to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school, rather than requesting a new I-20 record entirely. This will preserve your accumulated time in F-1 status, potentially allowing you to access authorization benefits like CPT and OPT earlier, as well as avoiding undue delays at a US border.
Transferring your SEVIS record will also allow you to maintain the same SEVIS Identification number, which means that any valid US F-1 entry visa can still be used until the end of its validity period. Transferring visa sponsorship can save money, since the SEVIS I-901 fee ($350) paid at the start of your program will transfer with you, and you may not need to apply for a new F-1 entry visa ($160). Transferring visa status to another school also allows you to stay in the US between programs for up to five months before beginning a new program.
Initiating a Visa Transfer
In order to initiate a transfer, please email the ISSO:
- a copy of your acceptance letter from the new school
- a signed copy of that school's "Visa Transfer Form*"
*If the school no longer has a visa transfer form available, the ISSO will need the School's SEVIS code and DSO contact information at minimum.)
Once we've received the appropriate documents, Smith's ISSO will schedule your transfer in SEVIS for a "release date" that makes sense for you and your travel plans. The scheduled transfer can be cancelled or changed at any time before the scheduled release date. Please keep in mind that in order to re-enter the US, you will still need a valid I-20 and valid F-1 entry visa. If using a new school's initial I-20, ISSO recommends re-entering the US no earlier than 30 days before the new program start date.
Transferring out of Smith College
While we hope that you are happy with your choice to attend Smith College, you may decide to transfer to another US institution to complete your degree. If this is the case, we can easily transfer your visa sponsorship to the new school. Let us know about any travel you have planned between programs. You will need a valid I-20 for US re-entry, either your old Smith I-20 or the new school's initial I-20. Consequently, it's important to plan ahead if you'll need the new school's I-20 to be mailed to you in your home country.
Please note: If the ISSO receives word from the Registrar's Office about your withdrawal from Smith College before we've heard from you, we will terminate your SEVIS record. This could adversely affect your ability to stay in the US between programs and could result in extra costs for your new visa sponsorship.
Taking Approved US Leave
If you plan to attend another school as a visiting student, we will need to transfer your visa sponsorship. Please verify that the desired school is able to sponsor an I-20 for visiting students.
Smith CPT cannot be utilized in a summer before or after Approved US Leave. If you plan to study away during fall semester, ISSO can recommend OPT during the summer beforehand. This OPT period will be subtracted from your 12-month total OPT allowance, and will require an application to USCIS. Please see our OPT section for more details on the application process. Please consult with the ISSO regarding summer plans before or after a study away, as this can also have an effect on your ability to participate in Smith programs such as on-campus employment, SURF, or Praxis.
After graduation, every student has a 60-day grace period during which they can transition their SEVIS record. During this period we can transfer your SEVIS record to another school for a graduate program. You'll still have five months from your graduation date to begin classes, but we'll schedule your release to happen during this period. Generally, the ISSO will release your record on the day after graduation to allow the new school the maximum amount of time to issue your new I-20. Since your Smith program end date is your graduation date, you will no longer be able to utilize your Smith I-20 for re-entry into the US. If you're planning international travel between Smith and your graduate program, please plan accordingly to receive your new I-20 for re-entry.
Please note: If you exit the US after graduation, you forfeit the remainder of your 60-day grace period. This means that your SEVIS record is no longer active and cannot be transferred. Please plan accordingly and notify the ISSO of any needed transfers ahead of your international travel.