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WHAT IS A TRANSFER I-20
If you are eligible for a transfer I-20 (as described below) and are admitted to a full-time program at Columbia, you must request that your school transfer your electronic F-1 SEVIS record to us so that we can issue a transfer I-20 for you. A “SEVIS transfer” is different from an “academic transfer.” The transfer of your SEVIS record can take place at the same degree level or when you are changing levels (e.g. BA to MS).
There are several benefits to a SEVIS transfer vs a new initial I-20:
- You maintain the same SEVIS ID number
- You do not pay another SEVIS fee for a new SEVIS record
- You may remain in the U.S. in between programs
Prepare Your Documents
Start your preparation and application early. The transfer needs to be completed before your program begins.
Log in to Compass to Apply for Your I-20
There are two ways to log in to Compass: with a PID or with a UNI.
OPTION 1: Apply with your PID
Your PID is the 9-digit number beginning with “C” you will receive from your admissions office or department (e.g. C123456789). If you don't have a PID, contact your admissions office.
- Use your PID to request a Limited Services PIN.
- Receive your Limited Services PIN at the e-mail address you used to apply to Columbia.
- Log in to Compass using your PID, Date of Birth, and Limited Services PIN by clicking the appropriate link below:
PID Login Issues
If you do not receive your Limited Services PIN within a few minutes, please check your SPAM folder. If you still do not receive it, please email the correct ISSO office only. In the subject line of your email, write “Limited Services PIN.” Be sure to include your PID and your preferred email address in the body of the email.
If you were recently accepted to Columbia, your record may not be in our system yet. Make sure you have accepted your offer of admission and paid your deposit, if applicable. If you still cannot access the system after 10 business days, please contact the ISSO office for your campus only.
OPTION 2: Apply for your I-20 with your UNI (Morningside students only)
Your UNI is assigned to you by your school and consists of your initials plus a number, e.g. AB1234, and is part of your Columbia email address.
Learn more about your UNI on the Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) website.
UNI Login Issues
Don't worry! You can follow the steps above (with a PID) to login to Compass without a UNI.
Establish Your Transfer Date with Your Current School
Contact your international student adviser at your current school to establish the date on which you want them to transfer your electronic SEVIS record to Columbia. We cannot process an I-20 for you until your record is transferred to us.
- We do not require a transfer form.
- Columbia University has more than one SEVIS school code. You will find your specific SEVIS school code in the online I-20 application in Compass.
- You will need to provide your current school’s international adviser contact information and they will be emailed our transfer information.
- If you are transferring to Teachers College, contact their Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) at [email protected].
ISSO Will Review Your Application and Email Your Transfer I-20
We will email you if we need additional information.
After your SEVIS record is transferred and your application is complete, we will process your transfer I-20 within 2 weeks.
When you receive your I-20, please review the information on it for accuracy.
VISA AND TRAVEL INFORMATION
If you have an unexpired visa in your passport, you do not need to apply for a new visa. You may use the visa you have, even though the previous school's name is on it.
If you have an expired visa and are traveling outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa, but you are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again.
If you plan to travel abroad after your transfer date, you must return to the U.S. with:
- I-20 issued by Columbia University
- Unexpired visa
- Unexpired passport
You can return to the U.S. with your Columbia I-20 at any time before your program begins.
Transfer students are not required to depart the U.S. in between programs. You may remain in the U.S. even if your F-1 visa is expired as long as you have applied for your Columbia I-20.
If you are currently a Columbia student and planning to continue your studies at another US school, please see Transferring Out of Columbia (F-1).
If you are currently a J-1 student and planning to have your active SEVIS record transferred from your present J-1 sponsor to Columbia, please see Transferring Your SEVIS Record to Columbia (J-1 Student).
For more information about traveling, see Documents Needed to Travel.
For more information about your status, see Guidelines to Maintaining Status (Students).
If you have questions not addressed on this page, email the ISSO office for your campus.