There are three categories of student visas in the USA namely F1, J1, and M1.
- To apply for an F1 (for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees) or M1 (for technical or vocational programs) student visa, you will require a form I-20 document.
- To apply for a J1 student visa (for individuals approved to participate in the work-and study-based exchange visitor programs), you will require a form DS-160.
The needed form is generated by the university’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) (SEVIS is the platform through which the USA government tracks and monitors international students).
How to change university after visa appointment booking
The process of changing university varies from situation to situation. Below are some common situations where changing the university requires different procedures:
Situation 1: The I-901 SEVIS fee is paid, and DS-160 is submitted, but the visa payment is left.
In this case, all you need to do is transfer the SEVIS from University A to University B. You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again for the new university.
- To transfer the SEVIS fee to another university, go on to the Student and Exchange Visitor (SEVP) I-901 SEVIS fee processing website and fill in the required details for payment status.
- Click on the transfer button.
- The website will prompt you to fill in the SEVIS ID and school code of the new university. Enter the correct details and submit.
- You will receive an email for the transfer request.
- A second email will either confirm your transfer or deny it. If your transfer request is approved, print the new details for later use. In case your request is rejected, the email will have an explanation.
Once you have the new SEVIS number, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Since you’ve submitted the DS-160 for the previous university, you will need to fill out a new form for the new university.
- Fill out the new DS-160 form with the details of your new university.
- Submit the new DS-160 and print confirmation.
- Book an appointment.
- Take the new DS-160 confirmation page to the scheduled appointment.
Situation 2: The DS-160 form is submitted, visa payment is done, and the interview slot is booked.
In this situation, you need to complete the steps mentioned above in situation 1. Create a new DS-160 form, fill in the SEVIS number of the university you want to attend, and submit the form.
Since you have already paid for the visa and scheduled the interview, you are now required to just log in to your account on the CGI Federal website and change:
- DS -160 confirmation number
- SEVIS ID
Please note that there is no need to pay the visa fee again as you have not attended the interview.
If you are unable to update your SEVIS ID or DS-160 confirmation number on the CGI government website, bring both the old and new DS confirmation papers to your OFC interview and inform the officials of the university change.
Situation 3: You have appeared for the visa interview.
If you have appeared for the visa interview, and your F1 visa gets approved. To then change your university, these are the steps to follow:
- Get the I-20 form from the new university.
- Transfer the SEVIS fee as explained in situation 1 above.
- Fill out and submit a new DS-160 form with the details of the second university.
- Pay the visa fees once again.
- Schedule and attend the OFC.
There is one more alternative method to change universities after getting your student visa to the US.
- Accept admission to University A.
- Once you reach the USA, tell the university that you wish to transfer the I-20 to University B. You will need written proof of admission to the second university at this point.
- University A fills out the required forms and then sends them to University B.
- University B enrolls you, generates a new I-20, and sends it to you.
It is imperative to keep all your I-20 forms, both from University A and University B, and ensure that your student status is always ‘Active’ by obeying the M1 or F1 Visa rules.
Important: Do not let University A ‘terminate’ your SEVIS status, or else you will have to leave the country and restart the entire process of getting a student visa.
It is possible to change the universities and SEVIS ID on your student visa application.
Therefore, it is strongly advised that you should not book your visa interview immediately after obtaining your first university acceptance letter. If you believe a better university will approve your application, be patient, wait for their acceptance letter, and then apply for your visa interview.