Changing to F-1 Immigration Status

If you are in the United States in a valid immigration status, you may be eligible to change your status to F-1. Please read our web page on Maintaining Your Student Status to learn important information about F-1 status. There are two ways to change your status: By application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or by international travel. In either case, you must be a continuing student or a newly admitted student for the upcoming semester for ISSS to assist you with this process.

Change of Status Within the United States

Important points to know:

  • Processing with USCIS can take 6 to 12 months plus mailing time or longer depending on USCIS processing times. While the application is pending you may not leave the United States.
  • Applicants in B-2 status may not begin classes until they have changed to a student status or other status eligible to enroll in classes. Since the process to change to student status from B-2 can be complicated, please schedule an appointment to talk with an international student advisor about your options.
  • On-campus employment may not begin until the change of status has been approved.
  • Your underlying status may expire more than 30 days before your requested program start date if your Change of Status to F-1 application was timely filed (i.e., was valid and unexpired when initially receipted by USCIS).
  • Applicants who are changing status from F-2 can begin classes part-time but can only be enrolled full time once the application has been approved.
  • You must submit the application to USCIS as soon as possible after being issued the I-20 from ISSS. If you have not filed your change of status application by the start date on your I-20, you must contact ISSS for a new I-20.
  • The USCIS process will change your immigration status within the United States but does not give you a new visa stamp in your passport. After the application is approved and if you need to depart the U.S., you will need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in order to return in F-1 status.

Steps to Changing Status

Changing Status to F-1 By Travel

Important points to know:

  • Your change of status is not complete until you reenter the United States and meet with an international student advisor to activate your F-1 immigration record.
  • If you are changing your status from B-2, you may begin classes only after you return to the United States and obtain F-1 status.
  • If changing from F-2 to F-1, you may only begin full time classes after you return to the United States in F-1 status.
  • You may begin on-campus employment only after you reenter in F-1 status and check-in with ISSS.
  • You may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date listed in section 5 of the Initial I-20. Therefore it is important to plan your travel carefully.

Steps to Changing Status By Travel