Change of Status to F-1

ISSS can assist students wishing to change to F-1 or F-2 status. There are two way to change status: 1) by submitting an application to USCIS or 2) by travel. Which option is best for you depends on timing, financial resources, and your personal and academic priorities.

Eligibility

Changing to F-1.
USCIS may consider a change to F-1 status if none of the following are applicable:

  • C, D, K, M, and S status
  • J-1 physicians, J-1 subject to 212(e)
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under Visa Waiver Program
  • B-2 without “prospective student” notation on visa

Changing to F-2. 
Changing to F-2 status is relatively simple when the applicant meets eligibility requirements for dependent status.

Process

  1. Before finalizing any plans, schedule an appointment with ISSS to explore your options. Sometimes, changing status from within the U.S. is not the best option. 
  2. If it is decided that a change of status from within the U.S. is viable, you will need to prepare the following documentation:
    • Copy of passport photo page + spouse (if changing to F-2)
    • Copy of visa + spouse’s visa (if changing to F-2)
    • Copy of I-94 + spouse’s I-94 (if changing to F-2)
    • Copy of all previously issued I-20s
    • Copy of EAD card (if on OPT)
    • Copy of financial documentation
    • Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee (if changing to F-1)
    • Copy of marriage document in English (if changing to F-2)
    • Completed I-539: Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status (download at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539 )
    • Credit card or check to pay the relevant fees
    • Letter from student answering the following questions:
      • •Explain why you did not enter the US in the status you requested
      • •Have you been engaging in activities for which you were admitted to US?
      • •Why have you decided to change your status?
      • •In what country do you intend to live/study after you have completed your studies in the US?
      • •Explain how your studies will help you after you leave the US?
  3. Once you have prepared all these materials, schedule a meeting with ISSS. At the meeting, an ISSS advisor will review your application materials.
  4. Submit the materials to USCIS.
  5. Notify ISSS of any communication or decision you receive from USCIS so we can advise you accordingly.

This process will not result in a new visa stamp. Instead, a new I-94 card will be mailed to you—the official designation of your F-1 status. The next time you travel outside the U.S. you will need to visit a U.S. consulate or embassy to request a new visa that reflects your changed status.

If it is decided that a change of status by travel is necessary, ISSS will issue you a new I-20 which you will use to obtain a new visa.