Extensions, Change of Level, and Transfers

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  • Requesting a Program Extension

    If you are unable to complete your degree program within the time period indicated on the admission I-20, you may request a program extension if the delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons:

    • Illness (requires medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist)
    • Change in major field of study
    • Change in research topic
    • Unexpected research problems
    • Annual extension (only applicable to students in J-1 status)

    Application for an extension MUST be made prior to the completion date on your I-20. Your academic advisor is required to certify that the delay in completing program requirements was caused by a compelling academic or medical reason and that you are making progress toward completion of your degree.

    You will also be asked to provide your most recent Form I-94 and Proof of Financial Support per miami.edu/internationalCOA.

    If your delay in completing your program is not for one of the reasons outlined above, or if you do not apply prior to the completion date on your I-20, you will be considered to be out-of-status and must apply for reinstatement.

    Complete the  Extend Program Request for Students in F-1 and J-1 Status form to apply for a program extension.

  • Change in educational level at the same school

    A change of educational level means completing one academic program and beginning another at the same U.S. institution. Examples of this are Bachelor’s Degree to Master’s Degree; Master’s Degree to Ph.D. Degree; Bachelor’s Degree to second Bachelor’s Degree.

    Some departments have degree sequences, which are not clearly defined. For example, the Master’s Degree and Ph.D. Degree might be academically combined. However, for immigration purposes, each of these degrees must be considered separate programs and treated as a change of level.

    In order to apply for a change of educational level, you must qualify for a new Form I-20 to pursue the new educational level, and you also must have been maintaining valid F-1 status during your prior program. Obtain the I-20 for your new program no later than the end of your 60-day grace period, and before the start of your academic program.

    If you are pursuing a joint/dual degree, i.e. you will be awarded multiple degrees at the end of your program, the change of educational level has to be completed, i.e. you obtain your Form I-20 with the new program level, before your current I-20 form expires.

    Follow these procedures for changing education levels at the same school:

    1. Contact your graduate department and follow all institutional and academic requirements for moving to a new degree level.

    2. Your graduate department will request the Form I-20 for your new program from the Office of Admission. Admission will e-mail you the Form I-20 with further instructions. All inquiries regarding the status of your I-20 must be addressed to your graduate department, not to ISSS.

  • Transferring from one school to another

    school transfer means changing from one academic institution in the U.S. to another for the purpose of completing a current or starting a new degree. For example, you would require a school transfer if you had been a full-time student at Miami-Dade College in the spring semester and wanted to be a full-time student at the University of Miami (UM) beginning in the fall semester.

    School Transfer Procedure from U.S. Academic Institution to UM
    Once you have been admitted to the University of Miami, inform your International Student Advisor at the current school of your intention to transfer to UM, and obtain a new Form I-20 issued by the University of Miami before the start of your academic program.

    School Transfer Procedure from UM to U.S. Academic Institution
    In order to transfer out of UM, you must use the Transfer Out of UM Request for Students in F-1 and J-1 Status to notify ISSS of your intent to transfer. Upon receipt of this form, along with your Form I-94 and proof of admission, we will update your SEVIS record, thereby giving the new school access to your record.
    You may be applying to many schools, but your SEVIS record can only be transferred to ONE school. Once we transfer your record out, we CANNOT retrieve it after the release date, and you will have to contact the school you requested that it be transferred to. Your transfer release date will be the end of the current semester unless otherwise requested, provided you have a valid reason. The new school cannot issue you a new I-20 until the record is transferred.

    Note: Students changing educational level (e.g., Intensive English Program at UM to Bachelor’s program at UM) and students transferring from another U.S. school (item 3 on UM I-20 states “Transfer pending from…”) are not subject to the 30-day arrival limitation and may re-enter the U.S. at any time with a valid F-1 Visa and UM I-20. Also, under these circumstances, students are not required to obtain a new F-1 visa if traveling and re-entering the U.S., provided the current F-1 visa is still valid, and are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again.