Changing Status to F-1
WHO SHOULD CHANGE STATUS?
Students should always have the appropriate non-immigrant status while studying in the U.S. Most international full-time students choose to apply for F-1 status. Being in F-1 status has restrictions and benefits, all which should be carefully considered before filing your application.
If you are already in the U.S. in a visa classification other than F-1, OIP can help you decide whether to stay in your current status or to apply for a status change to F-1. International visitors in some visa classifications other than F-1 may be legally eligible to study, whereas visitors in other classifications may not be eligible.
If you are in the U.S. in B-1 or B-2 visitor status, it is against U.S. immigration regulations to begin your studies without first getting approved for a change of status to F-1. Changing a B-1 or B-2 visa to a student visa after arrival to the U.S. may be very difficult.
If you are in the U.S. in F-2 status, it is against U.S. immigration regulations to begin a program of study at a college or university without first getting approved for a change of status to F-1. F-2 children, however, are allowed to study full-time if enrolled in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade).
According to USCIS regulations, F-2 dependents are allowed to pursue avocational or recreational study only. This stipulation allows dependents to engage in part-time study as a hobby or in an occasional, casual or recreational fashion. Working toward a degree is not considered avocational or recreational.
J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors
J-1 and J-2 visa holders who are subject to the two-year home residence requirement (Section 212e) are not eligible for a change of status while in the U.S., unless a waiver is granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Visitors in other visa statuses should contact us to determine whether they may study in the U.S. in their current status.
While OIP cannot change your visa status, we can give you advice about whether a change of status might be possible, inform you about procedures and help you find application forms. For more information about OIP's services for students changing status, please contact us.
The procedures outlined below are suggestions. The change of status application is your personal application, signed by you.
The approval for a change of status can take 2-4 months or longer. Employment may not begin as an F-1 student until an Approval Notice and new I-94 card are received from USCIS. Students who have been awarded assistantships may ask for expedited processing of the status-change application.
Please make an appointment with an OIP advisor to provide your I-20 requesting reinstatement and to review your application before you send it to USCIS.
You may not leave the U.S. while your application is being processed, or you will be considered as having abandoned the application and it will be denied.
Basic Required Documents
- $300 check or money order payable to "United States Citizenship and Immigration Services"
- Prior payment of $100 SEVIS fee
- Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status (PDF)
- Form I-20 from Loyola for change of status. If you are changing from B-1/2 or F-2, your program's start date should be at least 3 months in the future.
- Financial documentation (preferably not more than 2 weeks old). A combination of what you can provide:
- original bank statement
- original bank letter
- proof of assistantship and/or tuition waiver
- I-134 affidavit of support (PDF) with sponsor's bank letter/statement
- Proof of enrollment in classes and receipt for payment if you have already enrolled
- Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back)
- Photocopy of visa, identity and passport expiration pages from your passport (clear, clean, legible copies)
- Personal letter requesting change of status. The letter should explain:
- Why you did not enter the U.S. initially in F-1 status
- Why you are now requesting the change to F-1 status
- How studying in the U.S. will benefit you or be better than studying the same subject at home
- The hardship you will experience if the petition is denied
- B-1 or B-2 prospective students: Also include explanation of when and how you decided to apply to school. Include a statement that you will not begin your studies until your case is decided.
F-2 and J-2 Required Documents
In addition to the basic documents listed above, F-2 and J-2 prospective students will need:
- Photocopy of spouse's DS-2019 form (front and back) - J-2 only
- Photocopy of spouse's waiver or "no objection letter" from Department of State, if applicable - J-2 only
- Photocopy of spouse's I-20 form - F-2 only
- Photocopy of spouse's financial support documents
- Photocopy of spouse's I-94 form (front and back)
- Proof of marriage i.e., marriage certificate translated into English and notarized, or passport indicating relationship
J-1 Required Documents
In addition to the basic documents listed above, J-1s will need:
- Photocopy of DS-2019 form (front and back)
- Copy of waiver or "no objection letter" from Department of State, if applicable
Send all required documents by express mail or certified mail to:
Department of Homeland Security
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
P.O. Box 10539
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1053
USCIS will send you a change of status approval notice. Bring it to OIP so that we can photocopy it and record it in the SEVIS database.