Transferring Your SEVIS Record to Columbia (F-1 Student)

Are you currently in F-1 status at another U.S. institution? Learn if you are eligible to have your active SEVIS record transferred from your current school to Columbia to study.

Transfer to Columbia
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Summer Vacation

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.

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You are eligible to transfer your SEVIS record only if you meet the following requirements:

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Transfer "Release Date"

The "release date" is the date on which you want Columbia to have ownership of your SEVIS record. We cannot issue an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) for you until your record is released to us.

This will require you to meet with your current international student adviser to establish the date on which they will release your electronic SEVIS record to Columbia.

1. If you’re traveling abroad, you will need to have Columbia’s COE in hand when you return from your trip. This means you need the release date to be early enough for Columbia to process your application for a COE, which can take up to two weeks.

2. Are you going to be employed between the two programs?

If you're currently on OPT, you need to choose a transfer release date after your chosen last date of employment. You cannot continue working on OPT after your release date.

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SEVIS School Code

It is important that your SEVIS record is released to the correct Columbia ISSO office.

Columbia University SEVIS School Codes:

Not sure of the correct office? Check our campus school list.

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How to Transfer

How to Transfer
Step 1.

Contact your current international student adviser

When meeting with your advisor:

Step 2.

Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20)

Follow and complete the application instructions for a COE.

We will not be able to process your transfer I-20 more than 15 days after your program start date.

Step 3.

Report your arrival

When you arrive at Columbia University, you must report your arrival. You do not need to come in person.

This step is necessary to complete the transfer procedure and activate your Columbia SEVIS record.

You must complete the steps above no later than 15 days after your program's start date.

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Travel Information for Transfer Students

Yes, you can. If you plan to travel abroad after completing your studies at your previous institution but before starting your program at Columbia, you must re-enter the U.S. with:

  • COE (I-20) issued by Columbia University
  • Valid visa
  • Valid passport

Students with a transfer pending COE may return to the U.S. at any time before the program start date on the transfer COE. You are considered to be a returning student and not a new student with an initial I-20, who is limited to entering the U.S. within a 30-day window before the COE program start date.  Be sure to use the transfer COE at the port of entry. 

If you have a valid, 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).

For more information about traveling, visit Documents Needed to Travel page.