Change of Immigration Status
Change of Status to F-1
If your primary purpose for being in the United States has changed, you may need to change your immigration status or depart the U.S. by the end date of your current program. Applying for a change of status can be a complicated procedure. The steps outlined below may help to guide you through the process but the change of status application is your application, signed by you. You may wish to consult an immigration attorney to assist you.
Most non-immigrants can change their immigration status in two ways:
- Apply to the United States Citizenship & Immigrations Service (USCIS) for a change of status within the United States; or
- Travel out of the U.S. and re-enter in the new visa status – you may need to return to your country of citizenship or legal permanent residence where you can apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. Some individuals may be able to obtain a visa from a U.S. consulate in a third country.
Please be aware that if you have both a student and a tourist visa in your passport, you are not automatically able to transfer from one status to another. You need to formally apply to change your status with USCIS before your grace period or Form I-94 expires.
Paying the SEVIS Fee
Payment of a SEVIS fee is required for individuals applying for an F-1 visa to begin a program, and for individuals currently in the United States applying for a change of status to F-1. This fee must be paid prior to applying for a visa and prior to submitting a change of status application. The SEVIS fee is not refundable. Please see the SEVIS section (place link here) for more detailed information about the SEVIS Fee.
Change of Status within the United States
Individuals in the U.S. may wish to change their status without departure from the U.S. Nonimmigrants in C, D, K, or M status, J-1 visa holders who are subject to the two-year home country requirement, or those who entered the United States under the Visa Waiver Program cannot change to F-1 status from within the U. S. Full-time students who enter the U.S. with a tourist visa may not begin studies until USCIS has approved their change of status to F-1 status.
If you change your immigration status while in the U. S., the next time you leave the U.S. you will need to apply for a visa to re-enter in your new status.
To apply for a change of status from any non-immigrant status to F-1 from within the United States, you will need to submit the documents listed below to USCIS:
- Check or money order for $290 (made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
- Cover letter written by you explaining why you wish to apply for a change of status, why you did not initially enter the U.S. in the appropriate status, why you are now requesting the change of status, and why your goals/intentions changed after arriving in the U.S. You should also demonstrate strong ties to your home country to show that you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. If you have been offered an assistantship you should include a request to expedite the process due to pending assistantship (see personal letter sample).
- Original Form I-539 with your signature (found atwww.uscis.gov/forms)
- Original Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from Babson College
- Original Form I-94
- Proof of SEVIS Fee payment
- Proof of financial support (Bank/Sponsor documentation)
- Photocopy of your previous visa or notice of immigration status
- Photocopy of the page in passport which indicates its validity for at least six months into the into the future & photo page
- Any other documentation indicating you have maintained your current immigration status
Mailing Your Change of Status Application
It is recommended that you photocopy your complete application for your personal records.
Mail your completed application either through USPS (with delivery confirmation/return receipt or via an express mail courier (FedEx, UPS, DHL).
Your obligations while a change of status is being adjudicated are as follows:
- Report to International Student Advisor when you arrive at Olin College
- Provide any documents you receive from USCIS, including the notice of receipt of your application and notice of approval of your change of status when it has been adjudicated
- Maintain full time enrollment
- Report any change of address
It can take from 3 weeks to 3 months to process a change of status application. If your application is approved, you will receive a Form I-797 which will note the change of status. You will also receive an I-94 card and your original Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, both of which will have USCIS approval marked on them. Photocopies of these documents will be needed; please submit them in at your earliest convenience or send us a photocopy by mail. If your application is denied, you will be required by law to leave the U.S.
Change of Status by Travel
If you decide to change your status by traveling, you must leave the United States by the date your current status expires. You can re-enter the U.S. with new immigration documentation (i.e. Form I-20 for F-1 status or Form DS-2019 for J-1 status) once you have paid the SEVIS fee, and obtained a new entry visa from the U.S. consulate in your home country. Upon re-entry you will be in your new status. You will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your immigration document. Please remember that a change of status by travel usually requires a visit to the U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain a new visa.