Change of Status to F-1 or J-1
Changes of status may be done within the U.S. or by travel outside of the U.S. and must be initiated prior to the student’s current status expiring. The student MUST meet with an Office of International Services (OIS) advisor to discuss the best option for changing their status before initiating the change of status process. Most non-immigrants are eligible to request a change of status to F-1 or J-1 within the U.S.; the following visa categories are exceptions:
- J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home residence requirement (Section 212[e]) - not eligible for a change of status unless a waiver (form I-612) is granted by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). These individuals must leave and re-enter the U.S. with a valid I-20.
- Individuals admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (WB/WT) are not eligible to change their status in the U.S.
Option 1: Change of Status by Travel
By traveling outside of the U.S. with a new I-20 or DS-2019, the student must apply for the corresponding visa stamp at a US Embassy/Consulate. It is recommended that they apply for the visa in their home country. If the student intends to apply in a country other than their own, they should contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where they plan to make their appointment to determine their specific procedures for submitting an application as well as their guidelines regarding third-country applications.
The student must request an initial I-20 or DS-2019 for travel from OIS and pay the SEVIS I-901 fee prior to applying for the visa. Information and instructions for payment of the fee can be found at http://fmjfee.com.
Note: Upon re-entry in F-1 or J-1 status, the student must immediately check-in with OIS. To check-in, the student should bring their I-20 or DS-2019, passport with visa stamp, and I-94 card or electronic print out.
Option 2: Change of Status Within the U.S.
Students may be eligible to apply for a change of status in the U.S. by filing a petition (Form I-539) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Due to the complexity of the application, students MUST meet with an Office of International Services (OIS) advisor to discuss the best option for changing their status before initiating the process. Please contact OIS or visit us during open advising hours to consult with an advisor.
Change of status processing times average between 4-6 months or longer. The most up to date processing times may be found at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplay.do;jsessionid=bac585
If the student is changing their status from:
- F-2 - Dependents may not begin studying or working until the change of status to F-1 has been approved.
- H-4 - Dependents may continue studying while the application is pending, but may not begin working until the change of status is approved.
- B-1/B-2 - Visitors may not begin to study or work until a change of status to F-1 has been approved.
- H-1B - Workers must remain employed and maintain status until the approved begin date of the F-1. (An H-1B maintains status by remaining employed as disclosed on the employer’s I-129).