If you are unable to complete your degree program within the time period indicated on the admission I-20, you may request a program extension if the delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Application for extension MUST be made prior to the completion date on your I-20. If your delay in completing your program is not for one of the reasons discussed above, or if you do not apply prior to the completion date on your I-20, you will be considered to be out-of-status and must apply for reinstatement.
Please see separate handout to apply for a program extension.
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This section will provide you with information on what constitutes a change of educational level and the necessary procedures involved when you progress from one academic program to another at the same U.S. Institution
. (Changing educational levels between institutions involves a transfer procedure. Please see separate handout on the transfer process
A change of educational level means completing one academic program and beginning another at the same U.S. institution. Examples of this are Bachelor’s Degree to Master’s Degree; Master’s Degree to Ph.D. Degree; Bachelor’s Degree to second Bachelor’s Degree.
Some departments have degree sequences, which are not clearly defined. For example, the Master’s Degree and Ph.D. Degree might be academically combined. However, for immigration purposes each of these degrees must be considered separate programs and treated as a change of level.
Procedures for changing education levels at the same school
In order to apply for a change of educational level, you must qualify for a new Form I-20 to pursue the new educational level, and you also must have been maintaining valid F-1 status during your prior program. You must:
- Follow all institutional and academic requirements for moving to a new degree level.
- Before the end of the prior program, inform your International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Advisor of the program change, and follow the University’s procedures for requesting a new I-20:
- Once the new I-20 is received, sign the student certification at item 11;
- That becomes your new I-20.
Failure to comply
- If traveling during the break, make sure to have your new I-20 and valid passport with valid F-1 visa on you in order to reenter the U.S. after your vacation. Upon your arrival, bring your passport, I-20, and I-94 to ISSS for SEVIS registration after you have registered for classes.
- If not traveling during the break, bring your passport, I-20, and I-94 to ISSS for SEVIS registration after you have registered for classes.
If you fail to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through ISSS of your change of educational level before the end of your current program, you are considered to be out-of-status. Being out-of-status makes you liable to deportation, and ineligible for any type of employment.
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A school transfer
means changing from one academic institution in the U.S. to another for the purpose of completing a current or starting a new degree. For example, you would require a school transfer if you had been a full-time student at Miami-Dade College in the spring semester and wanted to be a full-time student at University of Miami (UM) beginning in the fall semester.
Please note: As an F-1 student, you are eligible for concurrent enrollment at a second institution without requiring a transfer to this school as long as the enrollment in both schools amounts to a full course of study, and you are registered at the institution on whose Form I-20 you entered the U.S. Courses at the second institution may be taken during Fall, Spring, or Summer sessions.
An F-1 student who is maintaining his/her F-1 status may transfer to another school by following the transfer procedure outlined below. However, if a student has not pursued a full course load (i.e., a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduates, 9 credits for graduates during spring and fall semesters) at the school last authorized to attend or is otherwise not eligible to transfer, he/she is considered to be out-of status and must apply for reinstatement to F-1 status through International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), or he/she must depart the U.S. and reenter in F-1 status. Please consult with your ISSS Advisor for further information on reinstatement to F-1 status.
School Transfer Procedure from U.S. Academic Institution to UM
In order to transfer in to UM, you must inform your International Student Advisor at your current school of your intention to transfer to UM, and obtain a new Form I-20 from UM's Office of International Admission, 214 Merrick Building.
Whether or not you exit the U.S. and use your UM Form I-20 to reenter the U.S. between transferring from your previous school to UM, you are required to bring your UM Form I-20, Form I-20 from your previous school, passport, and Form I-94 to ISSS within 15 days of the program start date listed on your UM Form I-20
School Transfer Procedure from UM to U.S. Academic Institution
In order to transfer out of UM, you must use the School Transfer Out Form for Students in F-1 Status
to notify ISSS of your intent to transfer. Upon receipt of this form, along with your original Form I-94, we will update your SEVIS record, thereby giving the new school access to your record.
You may be applying to many schools, but your SEVIS record can only be transferred to ONE school. Once we transfer your record out, we CANNOT retrieve it after the release date, and you will have to contact the school you requested that it be transferred to. Your transfer release date will be the end of the current semester unless otherwise requested, provided you have a valid reason. The new school cannot issue you a new I-20 until the record is transferred.
Failure to Comply
If you fail to contact ISSS regarding your school transfer within the required time limit, you are considered to be out-of-status. Being out-of-status renders you ineligible for any type of employment and makes you liable to deportation.
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