Changes of Status

Individuals may change their immigration status by:

  • Departing the United States and receiving permission from relevant government agencies (such as DHS, DOS, and CBP) to re-enter in the United States in a new status.
  • Filing for a change of status within the United States through USCIS.  This includes filing an I-539 form, filing fee, and other documents to USCIS.

If you are a F-1 or J-1 student who has changed status or are considering changing status, please consult ISSS.  If you wish to change status to F-1 or J-1 you must also first seek permission from ISSS.  If appropriate, ISSS will refer you to an immigration attorney as well.

An individual must currently be in an immigration status that allows for study in the United States in order to be in compliance with regulations and not violate status.  Categories allowing for study include, but are not limited to, F-1, J-1, H-4, and others.  Categories which do not allow for study include, but are not limited to, B-1 and B-2.

Please note that if you choose to file for a Change of Status in the United States through USCIS, you are advised to:

  • Always take copies of the documents you send to USCIS before mailing the application for your records.  Provide ISSS with a copy of your Receipt of Approval (I-797) when you receive it from USCIS.
  • Do not leave the USA while your change of status request is pending because your application will then be considered abandoned and your change of status will be terminated/rejected.
  • Stay in close contact with the ISSS office during the process and seek advice from us on what to do if the approval is delayed.

The change of status process in the United States may take 6-12 months (or longer) depending on the case.

USCIS Revised Guidelines for Changes of Status to F-1

Recently, USCIS has posted revised guidance for students planning a change of status to F-1 within the United States. This guidance requires an applicant to extend his or her underlying or prior status until the F-1 status is approved by USCIS. Change of status applicants may take 9-12 months or more for USCIS to process. Applicants may wish to begin applying earlier based on these changes; if you are considering a change of status to F-1 now or in the future, please consult ISSS regarding these changes. Students considering a change of status are advised to speak to an immigration attorney; a list of attorney references is available through ISSS upon request.