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Students currently studying in F-1 or J-1 status at an SEVP-Approved School in the U.S., or currently in a valid period of post-completion OPT, may transfer their SEVIS record to UNC-Chapel Hill.  Certain restrictions apply and are discussed in detail below.

Students who meet the eligibility requirements for a SEVIS transfer will work with their current institution to arrange the transfer of their SEVIS record.

In order to request a Form I-20 or DS-2019 from UNC-CH, students will need to complete the Admitted/New Student Intake Process in the ISSS Portal.  Students can find more information on this process on the New Student page (Steps 1-3). A form I-20 or DS-2019 will be created only after submission of all forms in the Admitted/New Student Intake Process and after the transfer release date in SEVIS.

On the transfer release date the student’s SEVIS record will be electronically transferred to UNC-CH and the previous institution will no longer have access to the SEVIS record.  The ISSS office at UNC-CH will then issue a new “transfer pending” SEVIS document (normally within 2-3 weeks of the release date, if all forms listed above have been submitted and approved).  ISSS cannot produce a Form I-20 or DS-2019 until the SEVIS record has been released.

Students transferring their SEVIS record to UNC-CH are not required to obtain a new student visa unless they will be traveling outside the U.S. and their current visa is expired.  If the student’s current visa is still valid, he or she may continue to use the visa along with the UNC-CH Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. Students with expired visas not traveling outside the U.S. may remain in the U.S. and continue to maintain F-1 or J-1 status as long as they properly complete all SEVIS transfer procedures as noted in this section.

F-1 Transfer Student Eligibility and Timeline

Students must be in valid F-1 status to be eligible for the transfer of their SEVIS record.  Additionally, students must begin study at UNC-Chapel Hill within the following timeframe:

  • Student Currently Enrolled at Another SEVP-Approved School: Students must begin study at UNC-CH at the next available term, or within 5 months of their last date of enrollment at their previous institution, whichever is sooner.
  • Student Currently in a Period of Approved Post-Completion OPT:  Students must begin study at UNC-CH at the next available term, or within 5 months of their last date of OPT authorization, whichever is sooner.  Students whose SEVIS record are released to UNC-CH before the end date listed on their EAD forfeit any remaining time of OPT and must begin study at the next available term, or within 5 months of their SEVIS transfer release date, whichever is sooner.

Students currently in their 60-day grace period may still be eligible for a SEVIS transfer, but should check with their current institution to confirm.

In addition to the process to obtain a Form I-20 from UNC-Chapel Hill, F-1 transfer students are required to check-in with ISSS at UNC-CH no later than 15 days from the program start date listed on their Form I-20 from UNC-CH.  Once the student is enrolled in classes, has reported his/her current address and otherwise completed the check-in process, ISSS staff will register the student in SEVIS and the student’s record will become active at UNC-CH.  ISSS will issue a new Form I-20 indicating that the SEVIS transfer is complete.

F-1 Transfer Employment

On the SEVIS release date the student no longer has work authorization on or off-campus from the previous school. Before the student is allowed to begin any employment on-campus at UNC-CH, the student must receive the “transfer pending” Form I-20 from UNC-CH. Working prior to receiving the Form I-20 from UNC-CH is a violation of F-1 status.

For students approved for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) from their previous school, the work authorization is no longer valid once the SEVIS record is transferred to UNC-CH. Working on OPT after the transfer release date to UNC-CH will result in a violation of  F-1 status.

Because authorization for CPT or OPT ends on the transfer release date, students should consider carefully the dates on which they plan to discontinue work and initiate the transfer. Students who want to complete OPT should consult with the transfer-out school to set the release date for a date after the OPT ends. Students can transfer up until the end of the 60-day period following post-completion OPT, as long as the student will begin studies at UNC-Chapel Hill within five months of their OPT end date, or at the beginning of the next available semester, whichever is earlier.

J-1 Student Transfers

An exchange visitor may transfer from another program sponsor to UNC-Chapel Hill sponsorship, if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the original program objective and if the exchange visitor is currently residing in the U.S. in the J-1 student category. All students should first discuss the possibility of transfer with their sponsoring organization prior to requesting a transfer.

The effective date of the transfer from the current program sponsor to UNC-CH should be discussed with both the Responsible Officer of the current program and ISSS at UNC-CH.  On the effective date of transfer, the student’s SEVIS record will become the responsibility of UNC-CH.

Students in J-1 status who qualify for transfer should contact a student advisor at the ISSS office to help coordinate transfer from their current J-1 program sponsor.  Prospective MBA and MAC students, please contact Jessica Larsen.  To complete the J-1 transfer process, students must check-in at ISSS no later than 15 days after the effective date of transfer in order for ISSS to validate their records in SEVIS and issue a new Form DS-2019 for their UNC-CH program.