Applying for Your Transfer I-20
Find answers to frequently asked immigration-related questions.
Summer Session Only
You do not need to transfer your SEVIS record to study at Columbia during your summer vacation if you will return to your current school in the fall.
You are eligible to transfer your SEVIS record if you have been admitted to a full-time program at Columbia, and:
- You are currently in valid F-1 student status as an enrolled student at another school, or are within your 60-day grace period following the completion of your program
- Your program at Columbia will begin no more than five months after your current completion date
- You are currently in F-1 status on OPT, or within your 60-day grace period following the completion of your OPT
- Your program at Columbia will begin no more than five months after your employment end date
Note: Statistics Hybrid Program students cannot transfer in for fall term because they are not in residence until the spring term.
- Contact your current international student adviser to establish the date on which they will transfer your electronic SEVIS record to Columbia. We cannot process an I-20 for you until your record is transferred to us.
- If you’re returning from a trip abroad after your transfer date, you will need to have Columbia’s I-20 with you
- If you're currently on OPT, your transfer date must be after your last day of employment. You cannot continue working on OPT after your transfer date.
- For Statistics Hybrid Students Only: The earliest date to transfer for Spring 2021 is September 19, 2020
How to Apply for a Transfer I-20
Prepare your documents
The deadline to submit a complete application is no more than 15 days after your program begins.
- A copy of admission letter/email
- The identification page of your passport
- Financial Certification Form (Refer to the Estimated Expenses for your program.)
- Evidence of Financial Support (Refer to the Funding Documents Checklist)
- Passport identification page of each dependent, if applicable
- If you're currently in the U.S., a copy of your I-94 arrival record
- A copy of all previous I-20s / DS-2019s
- You will receive our SEVIS School Code when submitting the online application. Our transfer form is electronic, and will be emailed to your previous school.
The processing fee is required and cannot be waived.
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) uses UEMS (University Express Mail Service) for shipping your I-20. Follow the instructions in your online application to order and pay for your shipment.
Log in to Compass to apply
There are two ways to log in to Compass: with a PID or with a UNI.
Apply for your I-20 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 and be sure to include your PID and your preferred email address in the body of the email. In the subject line write “Limited Services PIN”:
If you were recently accepted to Columbia, your record may not be in our system. Make sure you have accepted your offer of admission and paid your deposit, if applicable. If you cannot access the system after 10 business days, please contact the ISSO office for your campus only:
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
We will review your application
We will email you if we need additional information.
When your SEVIS record has been transferred and your application is complete, we will process your transfer I-20 within 2 weeks.
Receive your I-20
We're not permitted to email I-20s. Please review the information on your I-20 for accuracy when it arrives.
Visa Information for Transfer Students
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 have questions not addressed on this page, email the ISSO office for your campus.