Options for Changing Your Non-Immigrant Status
Change of status by traveling requires you to depart the U.S. and apply for a F or J visa at an U.S. consulate or embassy. When you re-enter the U.S. with your new visa and I-20/DS-2019, you will gain your new F or J status.
Before your visa appointment, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
Changing your immigration status inside the US requires that you submit an application to USCIS. Filing inside the U.S., allows you to remain in the U.S. while the application is pending. Processing of the change of status application through the USCIS can be lengthy. You can check the current I-539 processing times on the USCIS website. Please note that visa stamps are not issued for a change of status application. If you wish to travel abroad after your status has been changed, you will need to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate to return to the U.S.
The status change to F-1 or J-1 must be approved prior to enrolling in classes. If your change of status has not been received in time to begin school on the date indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019, contact your admissions officer and have it deferred until the next semester.
You must maintain your current, or other, nonimmigrant status while your Form I-539 is pending. You may be required to file a bridge application to continue maintaining status. For more information see the USCIS special instructions. If changing status inside the US, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney about requirements for filing.
Application and supporting documents should be sent to USCIS. These documents will include but are not limited to:
- Form I-539
- Form I-539A* (https://www.uscis.gov/i-539)
- Pay the SEVIS Fee and print receipt
- Prepare filing fee: Check/Money Order made payable to ‘U.S. Department of Homeland Security'
- See I-539 instructions for required supporting documents
* The revised Form I-539 includes the following significant changes:
- Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant's Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
- Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO non-immigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11.
- Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant's address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.
USCIS will reject any Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.
A few weeks after you mail your application to change status, you can expect to receive a “Notice of Action” document (acknowledgment of receipt). With the receipt number, you can track your “case status” at: www.uscis.gov.