Understanding Your Legal Requirements

This section contains information about maintaining your F-1 and J-1 immigration status. While Penn State’s international student advisers can assist you in understanding the benefits, requirements, and limitations of your status, it is ultimately your responsibility to maintain your immigration status. Please read the information in this section carefully.

Transferring to a New Institution (F-1 and J-1 Students)

F-1 and J-1 students must notify ISSA of their plan to transfer to another school.  Immigration considers any move from one institution to another as a “transfer,” even if the student has graduated from the first institution.  

How to transfer to another School

  1. In iStart submit the SEVIS Transfer Out form (under k. Other Requests).
  2. Upload the admission/acceptance letter from the school to which you are planning to transfer.


  • No transfer request will be processed without a completed iStart form and an admission letter.
  • J-1 students must be sure they are eligible for the transfer before making this request. Consult with an international student adviser in ISSA if you are unsure of your ability to transfer.
  • Only after Penn State transfers your immigration record can the new school issue an I-20.
  • Once your record is transferred, Penn State will no longer have access to your record on the request effective date, so be certain of your choice before you request a transfer.
  • You must begin at your new school within 5 months of your last date of attendance or on the next available session start date, whichever is earlier.  
  • Consult with your new school to determine when they need to have your SEVIS record.

Choosing your transfer release date:

  • Graduating/recently graduated? You should not request a date before you have completed classes at Penn State, but you must request a date within your 60-day grace period. ISSA suggests using the day after graduation as the transfer release date.
  • On OPT? You may choose any date; however, your OPT will end automatically on the date you choose, regardless of the dates on your OPT card. ISSA recommends you choose a date close to the end of OPT, if possible.
  • NOT graduated and transferring between semesters? You should choose a date before the beginning of the next semester at Penn State and before classes begin at your new school.
    Transferring in the middle of a semester is not advisable because you may not receive a refund of your tuition money and may receive all “W” grades on your transcript for the semester. However, if you decide to transfer within a semester, you must maintain your active F-1 or J-1 status at Penn State until your transfer release date.