Transfer of Major

If an alien student advances to a new educational program at the same academic institution, there is no required notification procedure. However, USCIS has recommended that in this situation, the foreign student’s advisor adhere to the procedure of notification so that the student's new expected date of completion for his academic program can be entered into the USCIS database. Such information is of great importance in determining whether the student's duration of status remains valid or, alternatively, if the student has to file an extension of stay on account of a failure to complete the current academic program within the expected period of time, plus the allotted grace period.

If an alien student changes majors within the same educational program and the same academic institution, no notification is required. However, when changing a major field of study, a new Form I-20 has to be issued to the student should the student decide to make a temporary trip abroad and desire to return to the U.S. This is because the change of major or field of study invalidates the original I-20 for re-entry purposes.

Therefore, when an alien student is changing from one academic program to another at the same school, the following steps should be undertaken:

  1. The student should obtain a new Form I-20 for the new academic program;

  2. The student should complete the student portions of the Form I-20 and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of starting the new academic program;

  3. The foreign student advisor returns the "student copy" pages (pages 3 and 4) of the Form I-20 to the student; and

  4. The foreign student endorses page 1 of the Form I-20.

(Updated 10/11/2012 by AD)

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