Once a foreign student has been admitted into the United States on an M-1 visa and has been awarded M-1 status, he/she may be eligible to transfer schools. However, it is important for the foreign student to abide by the requirements established within the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
In order to be considered eligible to transfer schools, an alien must do so within six-months from the date the student is first admitted as an M-1 student or six-months from the date that an alien changes his/her non-immigrant classification to that of an M-1 student. Furthermore, an M-1 student may be eligible to apply for a transfer to another school, as long as the student:
Is a bona fide non-immigrant;
Has been pursuing a full-course of study at the school the student was last authorized to attend (unless there were extenuating circumstances that prevented the student from remaining at the school he/she was initially admitted to);
Intends to pursue a full-course of study at the school that the student intents to transfer to; and
Is financially able to attend the designated transfer school.
If the student meets the eligibility requirements listed above, he/she must then submit Form I-539 for permission to transfer between schools. If the application is approved, the approval of the transfer will be determined to be the program start date listed on the Form I-20, and the student will be granted an extension of stay for the period of time necessary to complete the new course of study, plus 30 days, or for a total period of one year, whichever is less.
In order for a student to transfer to another school, he/she must first notify the Designated School Official (DSO) at the current school of the intent to transfer and indicate the school to which the student intends to transfer. After receiving notification from the student, the current school must then update the student’s SEVIS profile to show him/her as a “transfer out” and enter the release date for the transfer. The receiving transfer school will then be able to create a new SEVIS I-20 for the student. Once the student receives the new SEVIS Form I-20, he/she must then submit Form I-539. After the approval of Form I-539, the USCIS officer will endorse the name of the transfer school on the student’s SEVIS Form I-20. The student may then enroll in the transfer school at the next available term or session, and is required to notify the DSO of the transfer school immediately upon beginning attendance. The transfer school will then update the student’s registration record in SEVIS.
The Transition Process
As part of the transitional process, the student is required to notify the DSO at the transfer school of the decision of the USCIS within 15 days of the receipt of approval of the transfer application. Upon notification by the student, the DSO must immediately update SEVIS to show that the approval of the transfer has been granted and print an updated SEVIS Form I-20 for the student indicating the completion of the transfer. If the transfer application is denied, however, the student will be considered out-of-status and the DSO must terminate the student’s record in SEVIS.
Furthermore, if an M-1 student who has not been pursuing a full course of study at the school the student was last authorized to attend desires to attend a different school, the student must apply for a reinstatement of status.
Change in Educational Objective
Although an M-1 status holder may be eligible to apply to transfer to a different school, unlike the F-1 status, M-1 holders are not allowed to change their educational objective. Therefore, the student must remain in the specified vocational or technical training program that they initially enrolled in when they were granted their M-1 visa.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(11) and (12)
For more information about M-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: