This page is for new F-1 students who are transferring to Lewis University from another school. It will describe the steps you need to take to comply with school transfer regulations of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
INS Form I-20
Read all information on your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (INS Form I-20). If any information on that form is incorrect, immediately contact the International Student Services Office (ISS). If all information is correct, complete item 11 on pages 1 and 3. If you have dependents (husband or wife, and/or children under the age of 21) who are in the U.S. in F-2 status, their information must appear on page 4 of the I-20 form. If they are not in the U.S. but plan to obtain F-2 visas and enter the country to join you, they must have a separate Lewis University I-20 form.
The Two Ways to Process an F-1 Transfer
A school transfer can be processed in two ways: (1) by remaining in the U.S. and requesting that the ISS notify the INS of your transfer, or (2) by leaving the U.S. and then using the Lewis University I-20 form to reenter the country. The way you choose to process the transfer is your decision. Either way is acceptable as long as you follow proper procedures.
Transfer Processing While in the U.S.
To transfer to Lewis University while remaining in the U.S., you must be in lawful F-1 student status. If you believe that you may not be in lawful F-1 status, please see the information in the section of this handout entitled “Special Information for Students Who Are Not in Lawful F-1 Status.”
To process this type of transfer:
In order to comply with INS regulations and maintain lawful F-1 student status, you must process your transfer at the ISS no later than 15 days after classes begin. If you plan to work on the Lewis University campus, you must have your transfer processed before beginning work.
When you visit our office to process your transfer, you must bring the following documents with you:
Transfer Processing by Reentering the U.S. from a "Contiguous Territory"
The INS defines contiguous territory, as Canada, Mexico, and certain islands in the Caribbean. There are special rules which apply to F-1 who visit these countries and then reenter the U.S. Not all F-1 students are eligible to make these visits without first obtaining a new visa students (particularly those from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba).
To accomplish this type of school transfer, you must be in lawful F-1 student status. If you suspect or believe that you are not in lawful F-1 status, please see below “Special Information for Students Who Are Not in Lawful F-1 Status.”
If you have a valid F-1 visa in your passport and are not from one of the excluded countries, you may reenter the U.S. and have your transfer processed by the U.S. Immigration Inspector who examines your documents. You must make certain that the Inspector stamps your Lewis University I-20 form. If you apply for a new visa after leaving the USA, you must obtain that new visa before you will be allowed to re-enter the USA.
If you do not have a valid F-1 student visa in your passport, you may travel and have your transfer processed when you reenter the U.S. only if:
If you are not able to meet all these requirements, you must have a valid F-1 visa in your passport in order to reenter the U.S. When you reenter, give the Immigration Inspector your Lewis University I-20 form and make certain that the Inspector stamps this form to validate it. For detailed information on how to properly reenter the U.S., including special information on reentry from a contiguous country, please refer to the enclosed handout, entitled Obtaining an F-1 Student Visa and Entering the United States.
Transfer Processing by Reentering the U.S. from Other Countries
You must have a valid F-1 student visa in your passport in order to reenter the U.S. and process your transfer. When you reenter the country, give the Immigration Inspector your Lewis University I-20 form and make certain that the Inspector stamps this form to validate it. For detailed information on how to apply for or renew an F-1 visa, and for information on proper U.S. reentry, please refer to the handout entitled Obtaining an F-1 Student Visa and Entering the United States, which is enclosed.
Information for Students Who Are Not in Lawful F-1 Status
If you believe that you may not be in lawful F-1 status, you should immediately contact an International Student and Scholar Advisor at the ISS. If you are not in lawful F-1 status, you must address this situation either by (1) applying to INS for “reinstatement” to lawful F-1 status or (2) leaving the U.S. and reentering using the Lewis University I-20 form. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option with an Advisor in the ISS before choosing a course of action.
The ISS is pleased to provide you with information, advice, and assistance on any visa or immigration matter which relates to your activities at Lewis University. If you are in the Romeoville area, we invite you to contact us and make an appointment to speak with one of our International Student and Scholar Advisors.