F-1 Transfer & Travel


To transfer to another school in “active” F-1 status:

Request ISSS at GSU (the transfer-out school) to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school (the transfer-in school). Your new school will be able to access your SEVIS record and create your new transfer Form I-20 only after the record is transferred from GSU to the new school in SEVIS.

Please be aware:

  • Your SEVIS (immigration) record and academic record are 2 different things. Therefore, transferring academic credit to a new school does not transfer your immigration (SEVIS) record. It’s a separate process.
  • If you are on approved Optional Practical Training (OPT), your work authorization will end immediately when your SEVIS record is transferred.

  • Obtain an official letter of acceptance from the new school.
  • Log into iStart
  • If you are unfamiliar with iStart, visit our “Learn About iStart” webpage
  • In iStart, click on “F1 Student Services,” then the “Transfer Out Form″ e-form.
  • Complete the information requested and upload any necessary documents as PDF files.

  • After completion of studies, a transfer is only possible within the grace period (60 days for F1 students).
  • Transferring after the start of a semester at GSU must occur during the 1st 30 days of the semester.
  • After losing lawful immigration status, you will have to depart and re-enter the U.S. with a “new initial” Form I-20 from your new school in order to study in F-1 status at that school.


Valid Travel Signature Requirement

International students must have a valid travel signature on their immigration Form I-20 to re-enter the United States. Immigration forms may only be signed by an approved DSO (Designated School Official) or RO (Responsible Officer) in ISSS. Academic advisors and faculty members may not sign immigration documents.

  • The immigration document states, “Each certification signature is valid for one year.” However, we know from experience that signatures near expiration can cause problems at U.S. re-entry. Therefore, ISSS recommends a new (updated) travel signature if the current one will be more than 6 months old at the time you re-enter the U.S.

  • On form I-20, page 2.

  • Log into iStart
  • If you are unfamiliar with iStart, see the “Welcome to iStart” webpage and video
  • Click on “F1 Student Services,” then “Travel Signature Request.”
  • Your ISSS advisor will review your e-form and email you, once approved.
  • Then, find retrieval instructions for your I-20 in the approval email.
  • Normal processing time is 3-5 business days.

  • Know Your Rights at the Port of Entry:The American Civil Liberties Union publishes a helpful pamphlet called “Know Your Rights,” which contains information about your rights in case you come into contact with law enforcement at the airport or other ports of entry to the U.S. We encourage you to review this information, especially before international travel into the U.S. It contains useful questions and answers, and a list of other resources and referral contacts should you ever need them.
  • Grace Period: If you are in a post-completion grace period, and you depart the U.S for any reason, the grace period automatically ends. You cannot re-enter the U.S.
  • 5 Month Rule: If you will be outside the U.S. more than 5 months, your I-20 will automatically expire, regardless of the travel signature date. For students who are continuing their program by conducting research outside of the U.S., please note that you must obtain documentation from your department prior to departing the country that explains your stay outside the U.S for this time period.  You are required to visit the ISSS office before you depart.
  • Forgot your Immigration Form: If you arrive back in the U.S. without your I-20, you will not be allowed immediate entry. You will go to secondary inspection (a waiting area for further questioning that can take several hours), or possibly refused entry to the U.S.
  • Questions or Concerns: Please contact your international advisor if you have questions or concerns before traveling.