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How to get a Student I-20/DS-2019

After you are granted admission to Vanderbilt University, you will receive a congratulatory email from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).  In this e-mail, you will receive information about the ISSS Portal, which is where you will request your initial I-20 or DS-2019.  To get a Vanderbilt I-20 or DS-2019 you must submit a copy of your admission letter, a copy of your passport ID page, and financial support documentation.

The Office of the University Registrar, in conjunction with ISSS, highly recommends that entering graduate and professional students who completed a degree at an international institution obtain a certified course-by-course evaluation of their degree(s). For more information, please visit the University Registrar’s website. International students with questions about the prior degree verification process may contact

See here for the estimated cost of attendance for the 2023-2024 academic year.

If you have been admitted but have not received an email from ISSS, please contact ISSS at or 615-322-2753.

See below for additional information for students who will need to transfer their existing SEVIS record.

I am an F-1 or J-1 student currently in the U.S., How do I transfer my SEVIS record to Vanderbilt?

If you currently hold an F-1 or J-1 visa your SEVIS record must be transferred to Vanderbilt from your current school so that an I-20/DS-2019 can be issued.

Please keep in mind that this information applies only to the process of moving the SEVIS record that holds your F-1 or J-1 information from the U.S. institution you are currently attending (before or after program completion) to begin attendance at another U.S. institution. The phrase ‘school transfer’ or ‘SEVIS transfer’ does not refer to the transfer of academic credits or records between institutions.

Transfer Eligibility

Students in F-1 or J-1 status are eligible to transfer to or from Vanderbilt University if they are:

  • Admitted and otherwise eligible for an I-20 (F-1 status) or DS-2019 (J-1 status)
  • Maintaining current non-immigrant status
  • Currently enrolled full-time, on a vacation term, or participating in approved practical/academic training

Transfer Process

All new students must complete the I-20/DS-2019 request on the ISSS Portal. Be sure to complete the SEVIS Transfer questionnaire if you currently have an I-20 or DS-2019 from another school and you are eligible for a SEVIS transfer. You will need to complete the internal process at your current school to request a SEVIS transfer. Once your SEVIS record has been released to Vanderbilt, ISSS can issue your transfer I-20 or DS-2019.

Admitted students in F-1 status should keep in mind that the SEVIS transfer must be done prior to the end of the 60-day grace period for students who have completed their academic program and are not on a period of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you are currently on an active period of post-completion OPT, your OPT will end on the date your SEVIS record is released to Vanderbilt. Be sure to consider this when determining your transfer release date.

Admitted students in J-1 status will need to have the SEVIS transfer fully completed prior to the end date on their current DS-2019. We can accept a J-1 record SEVIS transfer if you will continue at the same level of education or a higher level of education. Your current DS-2019 must be issued in a College/University Student category in order to transfer your SEVIS record to Vanderbilt.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact your assigned ISSS advisor.

Transition to Vanderbilt


  • Students will receive the Vanderbilt I-20/DS-2019 upon completion of the SEVIS transfer process.


  • Request the new SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 before departure from the U.S.
  • If the current F-1 visa stamp in your passport is still valid, a new visa is not required. J-1 students who transfer their SEVIS records will need to apply for a new visa in order to enter the U.S. on the DS-2019 issued by the new program sponsor.
  • Re-entry to the U.S. is possible with the Vanderbilt-issued transfer I-20 or DS-2019, valid passport and valid F-1/J-1 visa stamp.
  • If a new visa is needed for reentry, the transfer student must apply using the Vanderbilt SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 and financial documentation

Transfer Timeline and Limitations

Transfers must be done within the deadlines established by USCIS, otherwise the student will be “out of status”

  • Transfer students must enroll at Vanderbilt in the term immediately following previous school’s last term, summer vacation, or practical training
  • F-1 students in their 60-day grace period must initiate the SEVIS transfer prior to the end date of the grace period following completion a course of study or practical/academic training; the student is eligible for transfer through the end of the grace period.
  • J-1 students must complete the SEVIS transfer prior to the end date on their current DS-2019.
  • F-1 students must begin their program at the new school at the next available term or within 5 months of SEVIS Release Date, whichever is sooner.

I’m currently in the U.S. in a different visa type, and need to change my status to F-1 or J-1

Individuals currently in the U.S., who would like to change their immigration status to F-1 or J-1, please contact your assigned ISSS advisor.