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Change Your Visa Status

ISSS Guide :: Change of Visa Status

Change Your Visa Status Within the U.S. to F-1

Students in certain visa statuses may be eligible to file for a change of visa status to F-1 within the U.S. by filing a Form I-539 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Be sure to review USCIS Change of Status guidance for more information.

While USCIS guidance linked above indicates the change of status application must be submitted by the expiration of the individual’s (or principal’s) I-94 Arrival/Departure Record or the expiration of the individual’s (or principal’s) current status within the U.S. (whichever is earlier), in practice USCIS will adjudicate (process) applications received within 60 days (the 60-day “grace” period) of the expiration of the I-94 or the individual’s status (whichever is earlier).

  • PLEASE NOTE whether or not an application will be accepted after the expiration of the individual’s current status is at the discretion of USCIS.

Individuals interested in changing their status from the B-2 visitor visa will need to review our guidance below very carefully because USCIS has different policies related to these applications.

Some of the benefits related to applying for a change of visa status within the U.S. include:

  • You don’t incur the cost of traveling outside the U.S. or being separated from friends
  • This process is generally less expensive ($290 application fee, payment of the $200 SEVIS fee, cost of mailing the application to USCIS)

Some of the disadvantages related to applying for the change of visa status within the U.S. include:

  • The processing timeframe for the change of status application with USCIS may be up to 9 months or longer
  • There is very limited options to request USCIS expedite of your application
  • If your application is denied and your previous visa status has expired then you will not have a valid status within the U.S. and will need to leave immediately
  • While the change of status is valid once approved within the U.S., the next time you travel outside the U.S. you will be required to apply for visa with the U.S. embassy or consulate before you may re-enter the U.S.

CHANGE OF VISA STATUS FROM F-2 TO F-1

CHANGE OF VISA STATUS FROM H-4 TO F-1

CHANGE OF VISA STATUS FROM H1-B TO F-1

CHANGE OF VISA STATUS FROM B-2 TO F-1

CHANGE OF VISA STATUS FROM OTHER VISA TO F-1

Change Your Visa Status to F-2

Individuals who wish to change their status (COS) to F-2 will need to be sure to file the change of status while their current visa status is still valid. This will be determined by the expiration of the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record or other relevant document(s). Individuals in the U.S. under a B-1/B-2 visa are strongly encouraged to depart the U.S. and re-enter with an F-2 visa and I-20.

The F-1 principal’s visa status must be valid during the duration of the review application review process with USCIS. If the F-1 principals status should expire while the change of status application is pending then it will be denied by USCIS.

  • While USCIS general processing times are 2-3 months, most change of status applications will take much longer. Many change of status applications have taken up to nine (9) months for USCIS to process and some schools have reported a processing time of over twelve (12) months. Students should plan for a minimum USCIS processing time of between four (4) and nine (9) months.
  • Applicants may contact USCIS after 90 days from their application receipt notice date to inquire about their application. There are very limited options to request an expedite for an application and to learn more about USCIS’s expedite policy go to USCIS Expedite. The ISSS cannot intervene with USCIS to request an expedite.
  • Once the application is filed you cannot travel outside the U.S. or your change of visa status will be considered abandoned.
  • Once your change of visa status is approved, the next time you travel outside the U.S. you will be required to apply for an F-2 visa before you will be permitted to re-enter the U.S.

Eligibility to Study: The Student Exchange Visitor Program allows an F-2 to study at a college or university on a part-time basis but whether a change of status to F-2 applicant may study will depend upon the relevant regulations for the applicant’s current visa status. If the applicant’s current visa status allows them to study then the individual may study while they await the approval of their change of status. If the applicant’s current visa status does not allow them to study then the individual cannot study until their change of status is approved by USCIS.

To apply for a change of status you will need to follow the steps below. All documents must be
emailed to [email protected] with the subject line “Change of status to F-2.” DO NOT copy
any alternate email or drop your documents off in person at the ISSS. It is your responsibility to
provide all documents listed below. Incomplete applications will not be processed:

  1. Copy of all applicable documents listed below for individual applying for change of status:
    1. Visa
    2. Passport data and picture page only
    3. I-94 Arrival/Departure record
    4. All I-20’s if previously in the U.S. as an F-1 student (if applicable)
    5. Employment Authorization Document (if applicable)
    6. USCIS Approval Notice (if applicable)
  2. Copy of all of the applicable documents listed below for F-1 principal:
    1. Most recently issued I-20. The most recent I-20 issued is the I-20 you possess that has the most recent DATE ISSUED on page 1 under the SCHOOL ATTESTATION section.
    2. Visa
    3. Passport data and picture page only.
    4. I-94 Arrival/Departure record. If paper copy I-94 then copy of front and back. If electronic record then print out from www.cbp.gov/I94.
    5. Employment Authorization Document (if applicable)
    6. USCIS Approval Notice (if applicable)
  3. If any additional dependent’s will be included in the application for the change of status to F-2 please provide the following documents:
    1. Visa
    2. Passport data and picture page only
    3. I-94 Arrival/Departure record
    4. All I-20’s if previously in the U.S. as an F-1 or F-2
    5. Employment Authorization Document (if applicable)
    6. USCIS Approval Notice (if applicable)
  4. Proof of funding for additional $3000 per dependent. For example, for a grad student who is adding one dependent proof of funding is $26,000 + $3,000=$29,000. Applications that do not include all the documentation listed below will not be processed.
    1. The proof of funding may be a bank statement (checking or savings account) or certificate of deposit and statements for three (3) consecutive months is required.
    2. The financial statements must be within 6 months of the date the change of status application is submitted to the ISSS. A letter from a bank or employment letter is not sufficient.
    3. Applicants will need to include the ISSS affidavit (sponsors outside the U.S.) or the I-134 (sponsors in the U.S.) at Funding Requirement for I-20 or DS2019.
  5. Copy of marriage license or official documentation verifying relationship. Must be translated into English through with translator’s certification.
  6. Letter stating reason for change of status

Once all documentation has been received the ISSS will review the documentation and issue the F-2 I-20 within 10 business days. A business day is Monday through Friday. All applications must be submitted to USCIS for adjudication and approval. Instructions for submitting your application to USCIS will be provided with your F-2 I-20.

Change Your Visa Status by Travel

  • To change your status by traveling outside the U.S. you will need to contact the ISSS to provide all required documents for the I-20.
    • Once your request has been processed you will need to depart the U.S. preferably to your home country (strongly recommended to travel to your home country), apply for the visa status you would like to re-enter the U.S., and once your visa is issued you will return to the U.S.
    • For students changing their status to F-1 they may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to your I-20 program start date.
    • Please note that students changing to the F-1 visa status will be required to attend International Student Orientation and a Check-in and Welcome Session.
  • The advantages to traveling to change your visa status include:
    • Avoiding the USCIS change of status processing time of up to 9 months or longer
    • Upon re-entry you will be entitled to the benefits related to your visa status immediately
    • Traveling can lead to a quicker timeframe to become the desired visa status
  • Some disadvantages to consider related to traveling to change your visa status include:
    • The cost related to traveling outside the U.S.
    • We recommend students travel to their home country to apply for the new visa (we do not recommend traveling to Canada or Mexico)
    • Possible delays in issuing the visa and the risk of denial
    • The “eligibility clock” requiring enrollment for one academic year (fall and spring) before an F-1 student is eligible for practical training (OPT and CPT) is reset if a student travels outside the U.S. and re-enters to change their visa status

Change Your Visa Status to Other Visa Categories

  • The ISSS can only provide guidance for change of status applications for students changing to the F-1 visa to study at A&M-Commerce or individuals changing to the F-2 visa status whose F-1 principal is currently studying at A&M-Commerce or is on OPT after completing their studies at A&M-Commerce.
  • Students desiring to change their visa status to other visa categories or who desire to file for a permanent resident will need to consult USCIS’s Change of Status Guidance or consult an immigration attorney.
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