Beginning a full-time program of study while on OPT is NOT allowed
(see also Taking Classes on OPT).
If a student has been admitted to a full-time degree program while on OPT, the remainder of the OPT (if any) must be forfeited before beginning classes at the new school. In order to maintain F-1 status and remain in the U.S., a student must do one of the following:
- Request transfer of F-1 record if admitted to a school different from the school that recommended the OPT.
- This must be done before the end of the 60-day grace period following the OPT end date.
- We recommend that students speak to the International Student Advisor at the new school about this process (see below for more information about issues that affect a transfer while on OPT).
- Request an I-20 for a "change of level" if returning to the same school that recommended the OPT.
- If the OPT was recommended by UC Berkeley, contact an advisor at Berkeley International Office before the new program begins or the OPT expires, whichever is eariler.
F-1 Transfer “Release Date”
When a student decides to leave one school to attend another, the student's SEVIS record must be electronically transferred to that new school on a specific date. This is called the "release date." Students should keep in mind the following points when deciding on an appropriate release date:
- After the release date has passed, students may not continue working on OPT, even if the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has not expired. The release date, in effect, cancels the EAD.
- The transfer release date must be no earlier than 5 months before the new program start date and no later than 60 days after the expiration date on the EAD.
- Students may request a release date in the future and continue working on OPT until that date as long as the EAD has not expired.
- If the time period between the OPT end date and the start date of the new school will be more than five months, please meet with an advisor at Berkeley International Office to discuss your options.
How to Complete a Transfer Out of UC Berkeley
A student who was recommended OPT I-20 from UC Berkeley should follow the transfer process below to maintain valid F-1 status:
- Obtain admission to enroll at the new school.
- Submit a completed Transfer Out Form to Berkeley International Office.
- Attach a copy of the admission letter or proof of admission.
- Attach any required verification form from your new school. (Some schools may have their own Transfer In or Transfer Verification form for BIO to sign.)
- Must be submitted no later than 60 days after the EAD has expired.
- Berkeley International Office will enter the chosen release date into the student's SEVIS record. On that date, the new school will electronically receive the SEVIS record and will then be able to issue a new transfer I-20 to the student. At that time, the UC Berkeley I-20 will no longer be valid.
- Contact the new school’s International Student Office to find out what their procedures are to finish the transfer process (many schools require that you attend a "check-in" meeting or some other type of orientation program).
Other Educational Programs
If interested in joining a program that does not have the authorization to admit F-1 students and thus cannot issue an I-20, students should discuss their options with the International Student Advisor at that school.