We are happy to help you with your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of your non-immigrant status to F-1 student. An adviser is available to help determine if changing your status is the right thing for you, and about USCIS’s requirements and procedures.
What is a Change of Status?
When you first arrived in the United States, you came here with a particular reason or purpose. You may have entered the U.S. as a tourist, for business or to accompany another family member. That purpose is called your "principle activity" or "status." When you arrived at the airport, the immigration officer recorded your purpose (status) and a date to depart (D/S) on a white card (Form I-94). This I-94 was stapled in your passport near your visa.
Now your purpose for being here may have changed. Perhaps a friend or relative told you that you should think about going to school here, or you completed your company’s business and are thinking about obtaining a graduate degree. Or, your principle activity may be ending.
If your principle activity has changed or ended, and you want to stay in the U.S. because you have a specific educational or professional objective which you wish to pursue full time, you will need to change your status to F-1 student to remain in the country lawfully.
What are the Rules?
You must have a status that allows you to change. U.S. law does not allow persons who hold the following statuses to change their status to F-1: C, D, some Js, K, M-1, N, S, WB and WT. A and G statuses must first complete a Form I-566 and get approval from the Department of State before a change of status application can be sent to USCIS.
B visitors and F-2 dependents who have already begun a course of study in the U.S. are not eligible for a change to F-1 status.
You must be here lawfully:
The date on your Form I-94 must be valid up to 30 days before you begin your program of study. A late application will only be accepted if the lateness is due to extraordinary circumstances which are beyond your control. Immigration's standards are very difficult to meet, and every day of lateness makes the application more difficult.
You may not have already ended the activity you are engaging in within the U.S. earlier than 30 days before your program of study begins. You will be required to present documents to prove that activity has not ended.
B visitors and F-2 dependents must prove they have not begun a course of study prior to applying for a change to F-1 student status.
You must be accepted to a full course of study and have the financial ability to support the costs of living and studying in the U.S. For more information about the requirements for obtaining a Form I-20, stop by the office and ask for an application for a Form I-20.
B statuses must show that they did not intentionally apply for the wrong visa or deliberately enter the U.S. in the wrong status. If you knew that you were going to go to school when you applied for the visa, or entered the U.S., you will not qualify to change to F-1 status.
You must be able to prove that you have a permanent residence in your home country, which you do not intend to abandon.
A CHANGE OF STATUS IS NOT A VISA
A change of status is not a change of visa. You can only obtain a visa at the American embassy or consulate in your home country.
If USCIS approves your application for a change of status, you may stay in the U.S., and stay as long as you follow the F-1 rules, the most important of which is that you study full time every term. The next time you leave the country, you will need to go to your home country to obtain an F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S.
Be Sure to Complete All of the Required Forms
Application to extend/change non-immigrant status (Form I-539)
Go to www.uscis.gov and print out and complete the most current Form I-539. Be sure the address to St Joseph’s College is entered in Part 1 so we may track your application. In Part 3, number 1, enter “D/S” instead of a date.
Attachment to Form I-539
If you are changing from a B status other than a B-2 prospective student, it is very important that you show in Question 1 that you did not intentionally apply for the wrong visa or deliberately enter the U.S. in the wrong status. If you told the consulate on your visa application that you intended to go to school or explained this to the office at the port of entry when you arrived, say so in this attachment.
Question 2: Describe how you have been fulfilling your purpose for being in the U.S. As a B-1 or B-2 visitor, describe your tourist or business activities. As a dependent, describe how you have been here with your family. Employment statuses: describe your employment.
Question 3: B visitors only - clearly describe, step by step, what and who influenced you to become a full-time student after you arrived in the U.S. Attach any evidence you have that would support what you say.
Question 4: All other statuses - explain why you want to change your status.
Question 5: If you were employed back home, explain how your studies will not affect your return to your job and how your career will benefit from your U.S. education. Attach a letter from your foreign employer that establishes that an extended stay in the U.S. will not affect your employment.
Question 6: If you were not employed back home, describe how your studies will help you prepare for a career in your home country.
Question 7: Describe your intention to return home permanently following the completion of your studies. What is drawing you back home and why?
Application for a Form I-20
And all necessary evidence of support (if you have not already submitted these documents)
Evidence of lawful status
Attach any evidence you have that you are maintaining lawful status in the U.S. Visitors should attach evidence of where they’ve visited or business activities; employment statuses (H, E, L) should provide a letter certifying their employment and a current pay stub; dependents should provide evidence that the principle is maintaining status.
Photocopy of Form I-94 departure record
Photocopy both sides of the white card stapled in your passport. If you hold a dependent status, attach a photocopy of your spouse or parent’s Form I-94 as well.
Paid in the form of check or money order. Make it payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Proof that you have a permanent residence in your home country
This may be a copy of a rental agreement or proof of ownership.
F-1 students changing to F-2 dependents must provide a photocopy of their marriage certificate.
A and G statuses only: Attach your approved I-566
St Joseph’s College will review your change of status application and will issue your Form I-20. We will contact you to come in and pick up your application, and give you instructions about paying your SEVIS fee and filing your application with USCIS.
The next step in preparing to file your application for a Change of Status to F-1 student is to pay your $200 SEVIS fee. You may do this with a credit card at www.fmjfee.com. You will be required to enter your SEVIS ID number, which is found on your form I-20 in the box with the barcode on page one. It begins with an N. This fee is nonrefundable.
Once you have paid your SEVIS fee, make a copy of it and attach the copy to your application in the order listed below.
We have placed all of the following documents in an envelope ready for you to send to USCIS. You must carefully check that all items are there. St. Joseph's College is not responsible any omissions. Check carefully.
Cover letter from the designated school official.
Current Form I-539 (double check USCIS website at www.uscis.gov that the form I-539 is the most current one available). The Form I-539 must be fully completed and properly signed by you on page three in blue ink.
Attachment to Form I-539
$300 application fee in a properly signed check or money order payable to USCIS
Photocopy of SEVIS fee receipt
Form I-20 (properly signed by P/DSO and you in blue ink on page one)
Photocopies of evidence of financial ability
Photocopy of I-94
Supporting evidence proving lawful status
Proof of permanent residence in your home country
Make a photocopy of your application for your own records.
Send your application to USCIS immediately - any delay could result in your application being rejected or denied - by certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested. Use our office address on the return receipt so we can track its adjudication progress. If you prefer, you may use courier service instead.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
When your application is received at the Vermont Service Center, our office will receive a receipt notice which will have an application tracking number, or EAC number. If you would like to have a copy of this receipt notice so that you can also track your application, make an appointment to pick it up in our office a few weeks after you submit your application. You may track the progress of your application’s adjudication through the USCIS Case Status Service at www.USCIS.gov.
Your application can take one to three months to process. We will contact you as soon as we hear from USCIS.
If your application is properly filed (within the required time lines and with all the necessary documents), you are in a period of authorized stay, even if your immigration status expires while you are waiting for an answer.
Contact us before making any travel plans outside of the U.S. Leaving the U.S. before your application is approved cancels your application.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact:
Assistant Director of International Admissions
Primary Designated School Official
245 Clinton Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205