It is a Department of Homeland Security requirement that F-1 students possess I-20s that most accurately reflect their biographical, address, financial, and academic information. This is particularly important if you will be traveling and renewing your F-1 student visa.
Biographical: Change in name
Dependents: Addition of F2 dependent
Address: United States Address and Foreign Address
Financial: Significant change to financial support such as an addition or loss of a GRA or GTA
Academic: Change in major, degree level, or program completion date
Depending on the type of request, I-20 updates are done through either Buzzport or iStart.
- Name changes: Students should not change their name with the Registrar’s office/Buzzport unless they intend to make changes to their immigration documents. Students should speak with an International Student Advisor before requesting a name change.
- Address changes: F-1 students are required to update their United States and Foreign Address by submitting the Personal Information Update e-form in iStart.
iStart Initiated E-forms:
- Request New Dependent SEVIS Document: To request an I-20 for an F2 dependent (spouse or child)
- Financial Statement Update: To reflect a significant change to funding, i.e. the addition or loss of a GRA/GTA or scholarship
- Graduate Program Extension: To request an extension if more time is required to complete an undergraduate student's educational objectives. The request must be approved by a graduate coordinator and the student may need to supply proof of funding if the student is not fully funded by their department.
- Undergraduate Program Extension: To request an extension if more time is required to complete a graduate student's educational objectives. The request must be approved by an academic advisor, and the student will need to supply proof of funding.
- Change of Degree Level: To reflect a change in degree level once a student is admitted to another degree level; i.e. BS to MS or MS to PhD
- Undergraduate Change of Major: To reflect a change in an undergraduate's primary major (see below for an explanation of primary major). The request does not need to be approved by an academic advisor, and the student does not need to supply proof of funding unless an extension is also required. Please read below to learn about primary majors and if/when to change your major.
- Graduate Change of Major: To reflect a change in a graduate student's primary major (see below for an explanation of primary major). The request must be approved by a graduate coordinator, and the student may need to supply proof of funding if the student is not fully funded by their department. Please read below to learn about primary majors and if/when to change your major.
Change of Majors
I am renewing my F-1 student visa and the major on my I-20 doesn't match my transcript. What do I do?
When renewing their F1 visa, students should provide the consulate with the updated I-20 reflecting the change of major. In addition to the I-20, the consulate will request several GA Tech institutional documents, including an official transcript. Since the change of major is not applied to the official transcript until the following academic term, students who have recently updated their I-20 will possibly have an I-20 reflecting the new major and a transcript containing the old major. ISSS suggests that students use both documents for the visa renewal along with the signed change of major request that was submitted to the Registrar’s office.
What is a Primary Major?
F-1 students are permitted to add and/or change majors and minors. However, secondary majors and/or minors are not reported in SEVIS. Therefore, they do not appear in section 5 of the I-20. The major listed in section 5 of the I-20 corresponds to a student’s primary major as listed in Buzzport and with the Office of the Registrar.
When the Office of the Registrar adds or changes a student’s record to reflect a new major or minor, the student will receive an automatic email from iStart. This email will request that the student login to iStart and complete a Change of Major e-form.
Should I submit the Change of Major e-form?
Students who have added a minor or a secondary major should not submit the Change of Major e-form as the minor or secondary major will not be entered in SEVIS.
The following types of students must complete the Undergraduate/Graduate Change of Major e-form in iStart within 10 business days of the change:
- Students who have changed their major
- Students with more than one major, but have changed the priority major.
Within 5 business days of a complete request, a new I-20 will be created reflecting the new primary major.
I have more than one major, which should I make my primary major?
Before deciding on a primary major, students should consider their long-term objectives here in the U.S as the major listed in section 5 of the I-20 can impact the type of employment in which students may engage.
International students participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT) may only work in positions directly related to their fields of study. During the first 12 months of OPT, students may hold positions related to either major as long as the primary major is listed in section 5 and the secondary major is indicated in the remarks section of the I-20.
However, students who plan to apply for the 17-month STEM OPT extension must have the STEM extension eligible major as their primary major and printed in section 5 of their I-20. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. International students in a STEM eligible major are able to apply for a 17-month STEM OPT extension. This means that after the initial first 12 months allowed for OPT, students who graduated in a STEM eligible major can apply for an additional 17 months of OPT bringing the total amount of time allowed for OPT to 29 months. Please find a list of Georgia Tech STEM eligible majors at our ‘What are the STEM eligible majors here at Georgia Tech?’ website.
What is a CIP code?
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) are 5 digit codes (00.000) assigned to each program of study to ensure that the same material is being covered in each program of study; regardless of the name assigned by the individual university. Since the content of a major can vary depending on the university, CIP codes are a good way to ensure students’ majors are categorized correctly on the national scale.
The U.S Department of Education manages the CIP taxonomic scheme, but it is the University System of Georgia Board of Regents that assigns the appropriate CIP code to Georgia Tech majors. F-1 students can find their program of study’s CIP code at the top of the third page of their I-20.
How does that affect international students?
F-1 students may notice that the major listed in section 5 of the I-20 differs from the name of their academic program at Georgia Tech; this is typically a result of CIP codes. I-20s are federal documents. Thus, ISSS must use the federal government’s classification system. When creating an I-20 in SEVIS, the ISSS enters in the CIP code associated with the student’s program of study rather than typing in the name of the major assigned by Georgia Tech. Students who believe that the major on their I-20 is incorrect, and it is not the result of a difference in CIP codes, should contact ISSS at email@example.com.
On occasion, students will receive an automated email from firstname.lastname@example.org stating that they have changed their major, and they must complete a change of major e-form in iStart. Students who have not changed their majors with the university, may still get this email due to a change in the CIP code associated with their major. Students who receive a change in major email, but have not changed their major at GA Tech, should contact email@example.com to determine if there has been a change in CIP codes.