Applying to Change Your Status in the U.S.
We strongly recommend that you travel abroad to apply for your F-1 visa.
- The processing time is at least 10 months and cannot be expedited.
You must maintain a lawful status throughout the processing time.
You are not in F-1 status until USCIS approves your application. Therefore, you are not eligible for any F-1 benefits, such as employment.
If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending, USCIS will consider it “abandoned” and will deny it.
- If your application is denied you may be considered unlawfully present in the U.S.
- USCIS may request additional information which will delay your application.
- If you are in B-1 or B-2 status you cannot enroll in classes until your application has been approved.
If you are unable to travel and need to apply for a change of status with USCIS:
- Contact an experienced immigration attorney
- Apply for an I-20
- Meet eligibility requirements
- You must maintain lawful status throughout the processing time (at least 10 months)
- Your most recent entry was not through the visa waiver program (ESTA)
- You are not subject to the J-1 two-year home residency requirement
How to Apply for a Change of Status with USCIS
Prepare required documents
- Form I-539 completed for change of status
- Form G-1145
- This form allows USCIS to notify you by email and/or text message that they have accepted your application.
- $370 USCIS application fee. Additional $85 Biometrics fee for you and each dependent. (Fees are not required if you are on an A or G visa.)
- Pay with personal check from a U.S. checking account, cashier's check from a bank, or money order, payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Write "USCIS I-539" in the memo line. We do not recommend using the Credit Card form G-1450 due to reported issues.
- Letter of Explanation
- See a sample letter here.
- Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment
- Copy of visa stamp
- Or a copy of your I-797 Approval Notice if you previously changed status in the US
- Your most recent I-94 arrival record
- Additional documents related to your current status
- If you are:
- on a work visa, three of your most recent pay stubs
- on an A or G visa, your I-566 approval form
- Photocopy of your I-20
- Sign the bottom of page 1 of your I-20 or your application will be delayed.
- Copies of financial documents used when you applied for the I-20
- Photocopy of your valid passport identification page
- I-539A for each dependent who is here with you
- Each dependent requires an I-539A form, regardless of age. Access the I-539A instructions here. Also include a copy of each dependent's:
- Photocopy of each dependent's I-20
Mail by certified mail or by courier to:
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Email your receipt number and a copy of your I-797 receipt.
Attend your biometrics appointment
You will receive a notice from USCIS with the date, time and location of your appointment
Update the ISSO
Notify us if you receive any other notices from USCIS or need to travel.
- While application is pending: If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending with USCIS, it will be considered abandoned and you'll need to obtain a new I-20 from us. You will need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate to return.
- After change of status is approved: If you travel after approval, you'll need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate to return.