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As an international student, you worked hard to get into a university in the United States. Then you worked even harder to learn everything your new school had to teach you. Now it’s the end of your first year, and you’re ready for a new challenge.

You want to transfer to the school of your dreams.

Transferring might seem overwhelming at first, but other students have done it before you.

Students like Mandovi Chatterje from India. She came to the United States to study zoology at the University of Pittsburgh. At the end of her first year, Mandovi wanted to transfer to the University of Virginia. UVA was a better ranked school. Also, her fiancé (now husband) was a student there, and Mandovi wanted to be closer to him.

“There isn’t a streamlined process,” Mandovi says. “So figuring out the process and the process of credit transfer was somewhat difficult.”

Fortunately, the admission department at UVA was able to help her figure everything out. Like Mandovi, you can make your transfer dream a reality if you have the right tools and support.

What you need to know before transferring

First, you need to make sure that the school you want to transfer to is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. This is a program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The department certifies schools that have the resources to support international students and provide them with a valuable education.

You can check if the school you want to transfer to meets these requirements using the searchable map on the Dept. of Homeland Security Website. You can also contact a transfer counselor for a list of SEVP-certified schools.

Next, you need to make sure that you meet admission requirements for the school you want to transfer to. Each school has different requirements. You will need to provide the school with an official transcript from your first university. This document lists the classes you took and the grades you received.

In addition to a transcript, your new school may ask for an essay describing why you want to transfer. They may ask about your extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs. They may also request letters of recommendation from your professors or other officials at your first school. Finally, you may need to provide standardized testing results or proof that you passed an English proficiency exam.

Your new university will decide whether to accept the credits from your first school. Sometimes all of your credits will transfer. Other times, you may need to take additional courses to meet the requirements of your new school.

The transfer process step-by-step

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security website lists some instructions on how to transfer, but it does not go into much detail. The step-by-step procedure  listed below will help you keep track of where you are in the process.

  1. Check that the school you want to transfer to is SEVP-certified.
  2. Go to the new school’s website or contact their admissions office to verify that you meet all admission requirements.
  3. Contact the designated school official at your new school and write down their information along with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System code.
  4. Your designated school official will create a new Form 1-20, similar to the one you filled out before you came to the United States.
  5. Make sure all of the information on your new Form 1-20 is correct.
  6. Gather transcripts, essays, recommendations and other essential paperwork. Submit them to your new school.
  7. Work with the designated school official at your original school and your new school to set a date for your transfer.
  8. Register for classes within 15 days of the start date listed on your new Form 1-20.

At any point in this process, you can get help from a transfer counselor who can answer your questions and make sure all of your paperwork is in order. The best time to get help is right at the beginning to make your transfer process as smooth as possible.

How can I get help with my transfer?

The U.S. News Global Education transfer opportunities page also has resources that can help. There you’ll find a list of some transfer friendly schools. You can even contact a transfer counselor using a simple online form. Transfer counselors have the answers you need to start your transfer to the school of your dreams.

Get help now.