SEVIS Transfer

Overview & Eligibility for SEVIS Transfer

A “transfer” of your F-1/J-1 SEVIS record means to change your immigration sponsorship from one education institution in the US to another, in order to continue your F-1/J-1 studies. If your F-1 or J-1 status is currently 'SEVIS Active' at another institution in the U.S., you may be able to transfer your SEVIS record from your current school to UChicago. The SEVIS transfer is for immigration purposes only and is completely separate from transferring academic credits to the university.

If you do not have an active F-1/J-1 SEVIS record, you are not eligible for a SEVIS transfer.

Current UChicago Students Moving to a Higher Degree Level

Completing one academic program and starting a new one at the University of Chicago is similar to a SEVIS transfer, but is considered a change of education level/program. The timing and advantages of moving from one program to another at UChicago are the same as those for transfer students. However, the process is very different.  If you are changing in between UChicago programs, contact OIA several months before the change occurs.

Eligibility for SEVIS Transfer

F-1 STUDENTS: You will be eligible for a SEVIS transfer if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have continually maintained F-1 status at your current school (e.g. no status violations)
  • You are currently in SEVIS 'Active' F-1 status (this includes periods of post-completion OPT) and have continually maintained status for the duration of your F-1 program.
    • NOTE: We cannot accept 'Completed' or 'Terminated' SEVIS records.
    • If you're unsure if your record is active, please confirm with your current international student adviser. 
    • If you previously had F-1/J-1 status but it has ended (e.g. you completed your program and departed the US, you are outside of your 60-day grace period, you changed statuses while in F-1 status, etc.), you will need to apply for a new, initial I-20 (not a transfer pending I-20) for your program at UChicago. You are not eligible for a SEVIS transfer. 
    • If you requested an I-20/DS-2019 from another school, did not attend that program, and now plan to attend UChicago, you need to request a new, initial I-20 (not a transfer pending I-20) from UChicago. Initial or canceled SEVIS records cannot be transferred. 
  • Your UChicago program begins within 5-months of your current I-20 end-date or F-1 OPT EAD end-date.

J-1 STUDENTS: You will be eligible for a SEVIS transfer if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are currently in SEVIS 'Active' J-1 status (this includes periods of post-completion AT) and have continually maintained status for the duration of your J-1 program (e.g. no status violations).
    • NOTE: We cannot accept 'Completed' or 'Terminated' SEVIS records.
  • Your UChicago academic program begins immediately after the DS-2019 program end date from your previous program without any gap period (e.g. summer in between programs). If there is a gap between programs, you will need a new DS-2019.
  • You are continuing the same academic objective listed on your DS-2019 (e.g. MA to MA, or increasing level MA to PhD).
  • You cannot transfer your SEVIS record to complete a degree at a lower level.
  • NOTE: Not all J-1 students will be eligible for SEVIS transfers. You must consult with your current school and OIA to review your J-1 transfer eligibility and confirm timing.

Return to top

Advantages to Transferring your SEVIS record:

There are several advantages to transferring your SEVIS record, including:

  • You keep your current SEVIS ID number and F-1 record
  • You do not have to pay the SEVIS fee again
  • If your F-1 visa is still valid, you can continue to use it until its expiration date.  It is OK if your old school's name is on your visa
  • You will be allowed to remain in the U.S. or travel in and out of the U.S. in between programs
  • You are not subject to the 30-day entry restriction (entering no earlier than 30 days before your program starts) and can enter the U.S. at any point before your program
  • You can participate in any pre-program activities before your start date, as long as you have electronically checked in to OIA with your UChicago I-20.
  • On-campus employment: you are eligible to engage in on campus employment 

Return to top

SEVIS Transfer Timing

F-1 Students:
OIA must receive your transferred record within 60 days of your I-20 end-date or F-1 OPT EAD end-date. Consult with your current school to determine transfer timing.  A few reminders:

  • Your existing F-1 SEVIS record must be transferred from your current institution to the University of Chicago no later than the 60-day Grace Period following your I-20 end date
  • If you are finishing OPT, you can transfer your SEVIS record during OPT or during the 60 day grace period following your OPT end date. 
  • If you transfer your record while on post-completion OPT, your OPT will automatically end and any remaining OPT time will be forfeited.
  • The start of Autumn Quarter 2024 is September 30, 2024. The earliest your record can be transferred is May 1, 2024. The latest a SEVIS record should be transfered to UChicago is 3 weeks prior to allow time for OIA to issue the I-20. If you are on OPT/STEM OPT with job responsibilities, please reach out to OIA if your SEVIS release date will be later. SEVIS Transfer Graphic.JPG

J-1 Students:
Your record must be transferred before your current DS-2019 end date. There cannot be a gap between program dates.  You will need to work closely with both your old school and UChicago to determine J-1 transfer eligibility and transfer timing.

Return to top

Steps to Transfer Your Record:

Before initiating a SEVIS transfer, please discuss timing and questions with the international student advisor at your current school.

  1. When completing the I-20/DS-2019 Request with the University of Chicago, answer YES to the SEVIS Transfer Questionnaire (#3 on the Questionnaire list). You will then be asked to provide the SEVIS release date, SEVIS ID as well as a copy of your most recent I-20 or DS-2019. F-1 students on active OPT will be asked to upload a copy of their EAD. 

  2. Your I-20/DS-2019 Request will be reviewed and accepted if complete/correct or rejected if any part is missing or incorrect
  3. Your I-20/DS-2019 will be processed as of the SEVIS Release/Transfer Date (the date at which your current school will release/transfer your SEVIS record to the University of Chicago) NOTE: The University of Chicago will not have access to your SEVIS record before the SEVIS Release/Transfer date. Your I-20/DS-2019 will be issued within 3 weeks of this date.
  4. Once issued, OIA will send the Transfer Pending I-20 to you via e-mail. "Transfer Pending" means your SEVIS record was successfully transferred to UChicago, however in order to complete the transfer, you must submit our International Check In form within 5 days of your arrival to Chicago. Transfer Pending I-20s are valid for travel.
  5. Once OIA processes your check in form, you will be issued a Continued Attendance I-20 signifying that the transfer is complete. At that time, you are ready to begin classes.

We cannot issue your new I-20 or DS-2019 until your SEVIS record has been electronically transferred from your previous institution to UChicago and the release date indicated on the transfer-in form has been reached. Please consult with your international student adviser at your current school regarding the transfer date. 

Return to top

SEVIS Transfer-In FAQs

Transfer Eligibility and Application
  • My SEVIS record is 'Complete.' Am I eligible for a transfer to UChicago?
    No.  A 'Completed' SEVIS record cannot be changed to 'Active' and is thus not eligible for SEVIS transfer. 
  • My SEVIS record is 'Terminated.' Am I eligible for a SEVIS transfer to UChicago?
    It is extremely rare that we can accept 'terminated' records, which require reinstatement. If you failed to maintain status at your previous University (e.g. failure to enroll, suspended for disciplinary reasons, no show, etc), you will not be eligible for a SEVIS transfer to UChicago. If you have a terminated SEVIS record and believe you are eligible for a SEVIS reinstatement, contact OIA for guidance. Requesting a new I-20/DS-2019 and traveling abraod to secure a new visa stamp can be a better option in these instances.
  • When can/should I transfer my record?
    Your SEVIS Release/Transfer date from your previous institution should not be more than 5 months prior to the start of your program and no later than at least 2 weeks before the start of your program. Please plan accordingly and work with your current school to schedule a transfer within that period.
  • I am a few days or weeks away from the 5 month SEVIS transfer window.  Can you adjust my start date to an earlier date so that I am eligible for a SEVIS transfer?
    No. By regulation, all SEVIS transfer students must have the start date of the official term start.  We are unable to adjust start dates based on personal circumstances or pre-program activities. See the UChicago Academic Calendar for official quarter start dates.
  • How long does it take to do the SEVIS transfer?
    As the SEVIS transfer is electronic, it happens instantly. Once released to UChicago, your I-20/DS-2019 will be issued within 3 weeks. 
  • What documents are required for a SEVIS transfer?
    As a SEVIS Transfer student, you must go through the exact process outlined on our admitted student website
  • What's the UChicago SEVIS School Code?
    • F School Code: CHI214F01068000
    • J Program Number: P-1-00100
Transfer Start Dates and Timing
  • What will my SEVIS Transfer I-20/DS-2019 start date be?
    By regulation, all SEVIS transfer students must have the start date of the official term start and cannot include and pre-program activities. See the UChicago Academic Calendar for official quarter start dates in other terms.
  • I'm required to do a pre-program boot camp or English language class.  Can my I-20/DS-2019 start date be earlier?
    No. By regulation, all SEVIS transfer students must have the start date of the official term start and cannot include and pre-program activities.  We are unable to adjust start dates based on personal circumstances or pre-program activities. See the UChicago Academic Calendar for official quarter start dates. However, SEVIS transfer students are not restricted to the 30-day entry requirement.  If you have required sessions to attend before the quarter starts, you can certainly do so with your SEVIS transfer I-20.
Visa and Travel for Transfer Students
  • My visa is valid for the next 4 years, but has my old school's name on it.  Do I need a new visa?
    No. If your F-1 visa is still valid, you can continue to use it until its expiration date. It is OK if your old school's name is on your visa. This is one benefit of transferring your SEVIS record.
  • Can I stay in the U.S. in between programs?
    Yes. Once your record is successfully transferred, you will be allowed to remain in the U.S. or travel in and out of the U.S. in between programs.
  • Can I travel internationally between programs?
    Yes, but you must have the UChicago I-20 to re-enter the U.S. after your previous program ends. If you do travel, you are not subject to the 30-day entry restriction (entering no earlier than 30 days before your program starts) and can enter the U.S. at any point before your program
  • Can I enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the I-20 start date?
    Yes. As a SEVIS transfer student, you are not subject to the 30-day entry restriction (entering no earlier than 30 days before your program starts) and can enter the U.S. at any point before your program. You can participate in any pre-program activities before your start date, as long as you have electronically checked in to OIA with your UChicago I-20.
  • Can I study at a third institution (not my previous school or UChicago) during the summer quarter between programs?
    Yes. You may study at a third institution in between your transfer from your previous school and the University of Chicago.

Return to top