Change of Status to F-1

An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant pursuing a full course of study while in the U.S. A student can obtain F-1 status by receiving an I-20 from the school they are planning to attend and applying for a visa at an embassy outside of the U.S., or, if a student is already in the U.S. with a different visa status, they can submit a change of status application to USCIS after receiving an I-20 from the school they plan to attend.

If you are legally in the U.S. on a different visa, you can apply to change your status to F-1 if the following statements apply to you:

  • You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. in an eligible non-immigrant status,
  • Your nonimmigrant status remains valid, and
  • You have not violated the conditions of your current status or committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.

When applying for a change of status to F-1 must maintain their current status until the change of status has been approved by USCIS. Change of status is only available if you are currently in the U.S. Please keep in mind that if the change of status is approved you will not be issued an F-1 visa and if you travel outside the U.S. you will be required to apply for and receive an F-1 visa before being allowed to reenter the U.S. If USCIS denies your application, you should be prepared to leave the U.S. when your current status expires.

If you are on a C, D, K, or M visa in the U.S., or you entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, you are not eligible to change your status to F-1.

If you are currently under a nonimmigrant status that permits you to study on campus you do not need to apply for a change of status to F-1.

If you are changing status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 you are not permitted to study until the change of status to F-1 has been approved. You must maintain your B-1/B-2 status until the change of status has been approved. If your B-1/B-2 status is expiring more than 30 days before the initial start date you must file a Form I-539 requesting an extension of your current status. If this is not filed on time, USCIS will deny your change of status request. We do not recommend that those wishing to change their status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 do it while in the U.S. It is a long process and may be more convenient to leave the country and apply for an F-1 visa before beginning their studies.

To apply for the change of status, you must first apply for an I-20 through International Services. Once it has been processed and approved, you will be issued an I-20 for Change of Status. This I-20 should be mailed with Form I-539 and other required documents to USCIS. If you file your application without a valid I-20 with the proper start dates, your application may be denied. For more information, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page "How Do I" Guides for Nonimmigrants.

Change of Status to F-2

To qualify for F-2 status you must be the spouse or an unmarried child under 21 years old of an F-1 student. If you wish to apply for F-2 status, your spouse or parent must add you as a dependent by filling out the Dependent Information form on Sunapsis. In this application, your spouse must include proof of your relationship, your passport, and additional proof of funding.

You may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the U.S in an eligible nonimmigrant status, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, and you have not violated the conditions of your status or committed any crimes that would make you ineligible. If USCIS denies your application, you should be prepared to leave the U.S. when your current status expires.

If you are on a C, D, K, or M visa in the U.S., or you entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, you are not eligible to change your status to F-2. Those that are applying for a change of status to F-2 must maintain their current status until the change of status has been approved by USCIS.

Remember that when you are authorized for F-2 status you are not authorized to work, and you are only permitted to engage in part-time study.