Government guidance extends the COVID-19 Exception for F-1 transfer through the 2021-2022 academic year.

The US government provided a special exception for F-1 transfer students who were unable to return to the US for the 2020-2021 academic year because of COVID-19. In order to make use of this special exception and to keep your SEVIS ID number the same, the Office of Global Services would need to submit a request to the government to fix/change the start date on your I-20 to the semester you are able to reenter the United States. This request is called a “data fix.” The earliest we can request a data fix is 60 days prior to the start of the term you will be starting at NYU in person. If successful, the data fix would allow a student to keep their same SEVIS record and ID.

Because the government has thus far not indicated how long this data fix process will take, and because there is no guarantee that the data fix request will be approved, the alternative would be for you to forgo the data fix process and instead apply for an initial I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number. Please note you may use your previous unexpired F-1 visa to enter the US. If your F-1 visa has expired, we recommend that you request an initial I-20 so that you can schedule your visa appointment as soon as possible.

Get Your Updated I-20

Determine which of the two options (detailed below) you will take to get your new I-20. If you have any questions about how this choice will impact you, or if you have 2 semesters or fewer remaining in your program, please Schedule an Online Appointment With An OGS Advisor. 

Below we’ve further highlighted the details surrounding each option.

Option 1: Get an Initial I-20

Pros of Getting an Initial I-20

  • You are in the control of your arrival (within 30 days of I-20 starting date)
  • If you have to apply for a new F-1 visa you can make an appointment as soon as you have your new initial I-20 (that is, you won’t have to wait until the government “fixes” your transfer start date).
  • If you get a new I-20 with new SEVIS ID number, the US Department of State (the government agency issuing visas) Consulate Field Advisory Manual states that students should get a new visa even if your F-1 visa has not yet expired. In practice, however, US Customs and Border Protection (the government agency you interact with when traveling into the US) has not indicated that this will be a problem and remain consistent in admitting students who are in this situation into the United States without issue.
  • If for any reason you are unable to arrive by the program start date indicated on the new initial I-20, you must notify OGS as you would again need a new I-20 in order to be eligible to enter the United States when you're able.

Cons of Getting an Initial I-20

  • You will have to pay the SEVIS fee ($350) again as you will get a new SEVIS ID number.
  • Your OPT/CPT eligibility clock would start again only from the semester you physically start classes at NYU within the US in person. This means that if you planned to arrive at NYU for Fall 2021 you would potentially be eligible for OPT or CPT by Summer 2022, unless earlier required by your academic program and you are a graduate student.

How to Get an Initial I-20

Follow the instructions as listed on on our apply for an I-20 web page.


Option 2: Pursue a Transfer Data Fix

Pros of Pursuing a Data Fix

  • You will not have to pay the SEVIS fee again as you will be keeping your same SEVIS ID number
  • A data fix may allow some students to be eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization once they are back in the US in active F-1 status, but please note:
    • Students who previously attended a high school or language institute would not be eligible for OPT/CPT work authorization until Summer 2022
    • Graduate students who are in programs that require an internship or practicum prior to Summer 2022 would be eligible for CPT regardless of whether they pursued the datafix or requested an initial I-20

Cons of Pursuing a Data Fix

There is uncertainty surrounding the data fix from the SEVIS perspective:

  • If there is a delay and you can’t arrive by the program start date indicated on your I-20, even with your academic department's approval, the data fix option does not allow for late arrivals. Therefore, you must be able to enter the US by the updated program start date listed on the I-20 if you choose this option.
  • As of now, the US government has not provided clear guidance on how they will handle processing these requests for thousands of international students. This must be handled one by one and we are anticipating a huge backlog.
  • We can only request this data fix with a travel itinerary 60 days before the start of the semester or term that a student will first arrive for in-person classes at NYU. The US government will be fielding these requests from colleges throughout the US. Keep in mind that this may intersect with reduced staffing due to holidays and vacation plans for both government office workers and University staff.
  • The SEVIS record will look more complicated as there will be an auto termination on your record prior to the data fix. Because of this record history, this may further complicate any future US visa applications you may have.
  • You will likely be waiting with no confirmation on the status of your I-20 as we wait to see if the data fix is approved
    • Should you need a visa, you will not be able to obtain an appointment until you receive your updated I-20
    • It will be more challenging to plan your travel to the US as you will not know when your data fix will be approved

How to Pursue a Transfer Data Fix

Complete the SEVIS Transfer Data Fix Request form.