The Catholic University of America

Transferring Your F-1 or J-1 Immigration Status to CUA

As an international student currently studying at another American educational institution or as an international student currently on a period of Optional Practical Training wishing to continue your studies, you must transfer your F or J status to CUA if you will be studying here on a full time basis. This requires communication and coordination between your current school and The Catholic University of America.

You are eligible to transfer your F-1 or J-1 status from your current institution to CUA if you have been maintaining your status. If you have violated the terms of your student status either by failing to maintain your enrollment as required under immigration regulations, through unauthorized employment or some other reason, you must discuss your situation with the staff of International Student and Scholar Services. You may either need to apply for reinstatement or need to travel outside the U.S. and return on a new F or J program. Since each case is different, a discussion with ISSS is necessary.

The Process

  1. Submit your application for admission to The Catholic University of America. Ideally, this should include:

a. Appropriate test scores and evidence of English language proficiency

b. Copies of your current passport, I-20 or DS-2019

c. Evidence of your financial ability to cover the costs associated with studying at CUA.

  2.  Receive your acceptance to the academic program at CUA.

  3.  Have your current school complete a Transfer To CUA Form and release your        SEVIS record to CUA.

  4. CUA will issue a new I-20 or DS-2019 for the academic program at CUA. This         document will indicate you are beginning a new program.Please be advised           that at this stage of the process, your transfer is not complete.

  5.  To finalize the transfer, you will need to report to ISSS within 10 days of the          start of class. If you fail to report to ISSS, your transfer will not be finalized.          Your legal status in the U.S. may be jeopardized as the automatic                        maintenance features of SEVIS will automatically terminate your record. 

Travel While Switching Schools

With proper planning, it is possible to travel when changing schools.

  • Travel abroad before coming to CUA: If you are traveling before you are scheduled to begin your studies at CUA, you should bring both pages of the new Form I-20 or Form DS2019 with you when you travel. The precise procedure you will follow will depend upon whether or not you have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport at the time you plan to re-enter the U.S.
    • Need to apply for new visa in passport: If your visa stamp has expired or if you have used up the allowable number of entries for that visa stamp, you must make plans to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. You should follow the visa application procedures outlined above.
    • Visa in passport is still valid: If your visa stamp from your previous school is still valid (i.e. it is not expired and the maximum number of allowable entries have not already been used), then you will not need to apply for a new stamp, regardless of the name of the school noted on your visa. Instead you will take all page of the Form I-20 or DS-2019 with you and present them at the port of entry when you return to the U.S. INS will stamp the form and process your transfer accordingly.
  • No travel outside of U.S. before coming to CUA: If you will not be traveling, you must finalize the transfer procedures within the U.S. To do this, you will be required to sign the appropriate pages of your Form I-20 or DS-2019. CUA's Office of International Student and Scholar Services will finalize the transfer process and notify the relevant government agencies.

Completing the SEVIS Transfer to ensure continued legal presence

Students who transfer from another U.S. academic institution to CUA are required to legally complete their transfer within 15 days of the start of the new semester. Failure to do so will render the student out of status and will require him or her to apply for re-instatement. Under new immigration rules, it must be shown that the failure to transfer in a timely manner was absolutely beyond the student's control.

Upon arrival on the CUA campus it is imperative that the student check in with the International Student and Scholar Services office to formally complete the transfer process. Even though they may have already gone through orientation at their previous school, transfer students should be prepared to attend the orientation session for new students.