What is Change of Status?

Providing permission to foreign nationals holding a nonimmigrant visa in the U.S. to change status to another nonimmigrant category while in the U.S. is called Change of Status.

PROCEDURE TO APPLY FOR CHANGE OF STATUS

Individuals currently in the US may apply for a change of status from certain nonimmigrant classifications to F-1 student status. This process does not require a departure from the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews applications for change of status based on the applicant’s ability to document and justify a change of intent after arrival to the US. Applications are approved at the discretion of the USCIS.

How to Apply for Change of Status:

*Please visit the USA English Language Center office anytime during office hours to speak with an advisor on this process.

1. Fill out the USA ELC application form

2. Mail, fax or bring the application form to USA English Language Center with a bank statement ($1,500 minimum), and photocopy of your passport.

3. We will then mail, or you can pick up your I-20 form, and letter of acceptance from the school. USA English Language Center will provide you with a list of documents that need to be filled out and mailed to USCIS. A USA English Language Center advisor with check all of your documents before mailing them to USCIS.

• Processing times vary at each service center. Check the USCIS web site for current processing times: USCIS Processing Times

• You will receive an I-797 receipt notice from the USCIS approximately one month after filing your application. You may check the status of your application on-line using the receipt number found on the I-797 receipt notice: Change of Status Notice.

Issues Specific to Original Visa Type

In addition to the items required of all change of status applicants, consider and/or include the following information. If you hold an immigration status that is not listed below, consult USA English Language Center regarding eligibility requirements.

Changing from H-1 or H-4

In addition to the items on page 1, please include:

Copies of all previously issued I-797 forms showing H status
Evidence that you are in valid H status as of the date that you send your change of status application to the USA English Language Center (e.g. a letter from the H-1 employer confirming current employment and most recent pay stubs).

You may not work at your H-1 employment after the change of status to F-1 student is effective.

You may begin your studies while the change of status application is pending.

Changing from J-1 or J-2

In addition to the items on page 1, please include:

Copies of all previously issued DS-2019 Forms showing J status

For J-2s: Copies of your spouse’s (J-1) immigration documents: DS-2019 forms, passport information page, visa stamp page and I-94 card (front and back)

You may begin your studies while the change of status application is pending

Both J-1 and J-2 visa holders who are subject to INA Section 212(e), also known as the “two-year home residency requirement,” may not change status within the US, unless they have received a waiver of the requirement from the US Department of State. Acquiring F-1 status via travel abroad is permitted.

Changing from F-2

In addition to the items on page 1, please include:

Copies of your spouse’s (F-1) immigration documents: I-20 forms, passport information page, visa stamp page and I-94 card (Front and back). If your spouse is currently on post-completion Optional Practical Training, also include a copy of his or her employment authorization card.
Copies of your (F-2) I-20 forms

Your F-1 status must be approved before beginning full-time study.

Changing from B-1 or B-2

Your F-1 status must be approved before beginning full-time study.

I-539 Change of Status Application: http://www.uscis.gov/i-539

For more information: USCIS Change of Status Guide