To change from one nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant status within the U.S., an Application for Change of Status must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please consult with a Center for International Services advisor before filing your change of status application. Because change of status applications within the U.S. can take many months to be processed by USCIS (5-6 months or longer), timing of the application is very important. We advise that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney when filing your change of status to avoid problems that may have been foreseen by someone with experience with these applications.
To apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 status, you will need the following documentation:
- Form I-539: “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”.
- Application Fee of $370.00 and Biometrics fee of $85.00: You may pay by check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Write “I-539 Change of Status” and your name on the front of the check OR by credit card by filing Form G-1450.
- A cover letter from you addressed to the USCIS requesting the change of status and explaining your circumstances. Include why you entered the U.S. in your current status, why and how your intentions changed after arrival in the U.S. and any other relevant information. View a sample cover letter.
- Proof of financial support (bank statement, assistantship letter, etc.) for at least the amount shown on your I-20, the estimated cost of attendance and living expenses for one year.
- A copy of the Form I-20 or DS 2019 issued by the Center for International Services. (To obtain this, please submit an I-20 or DS-2019 request form, provide proof of funding (step 4), and proof of acceptance into the program (if applicable).
- A copy of your SEVIS Fee Receipt that you must pay online.
- A copy of the letter of acceptance from the School or Program you are entering, if applicable.
- Copies of the following pages of your passport: ID page(s), includes your photo and expiration date, and the most recent U.S. visa page in your passport.
- A printout of your electronic I-94.
- Copies of additional immigration documents pertaining to your current status: For example, if you are currently in H-1B or L-1 status, the I-797 Approval Notice and documentation that you are maintaining your status (copies of paystubs, letter from employer, etc.). If you are currently in F-2 status, your Dependent I-20 form, your F-1’s I-20, passport ID page, visa, I-94 printout and documentation that he/she is maintaining status. If you are currently in J-2 status, your Dependent DS-2019 form, your J-1’s DS-2019, passport ID page, visa, I-94 printout and documentation that he/she is maintaining status.
- If your application includes any dependents, for each you must have copies of the F-2 I-20s, J-2 DS-2019s, Passport ID pages, visas, I-94 printouts and documentation of your relationship including marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, ect.
We recommend that you make a copy of your entire application and supporting documents for your files before sending them to USCIS. Send the application to the appropriate USCIS filing address as indicated in the instructions for form I-539. We recommend that you send the application by trackable mail (USPS Express or Priority Mail, UPS, Fed Ex or DHL). If you move after filing for change of status, you will need to change your address online. USCIS mail will NOT be forwarded to your new address.
You will receive a receipt notice with a case number assigned. This case number can be used to check the status of the application on the USCIS Website.
When you receive a response from the USCIS, please report the outcome to the Center for International Services immediately. Send or bring a photocopy of your I-20 or DS-2019, I-797 “Approval Notice” to the Center.