Change of Status
If you are currently inside the United Status with a valid visa that is NOT an F-1 visa, and you want to apply for an F-1 visa and enroll in classes at CF, you have two options to change your visa status.
Option 1: Travel and Re-entry
You may apply to change your status by traveling home and applying for an F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. To change your status, you will need to apply for admission to CF using the International Student Application. After you are admitted, you will receive your official acceptance letter and an Initial I-20. You will then apply for the F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. This option offers a quicker processing time and faster decision, and therefore this option is highly recommended. If approved for an F-1 visa, you can reenter the U.S. 30 days before the semester begins and enroll in classes. For information on how to apply, visit CF.edu/Intl-Apply.
Option 2: Change of Status inside the U.S.
If you wish to remain inside the U.S. and apply to change your current visa (such as F2, B1, B2, or J2) to an F-1 visa, you must submit a Form 1-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. You must be in a valid immigration status that is eligible to change to an F-1 visa, and your application must be received before your current visa expires. While your application is processing, you may remain inside the U.S. but you cannot begin classes until you are approved. This application process can take a considerable length of time, and if denied, you must exit the U.S. immediately. Due to the significantly longer processing time, we highly recommend you apply using Option 1: Travel and Re-entry.
Who is Eligible?
Not all nonimmigrant classifications may change status inside the U.S. Read the I-539 Instructions carefully to ensure that your category is eligible. If you are in a status that is eligible to apply, complete the steps below. If you are currently in a visa category that is not authorized, you may exit U.S. and apply using Option 1: Travel and Re-entry.
First Step: Application to CF
You must apply to CF online at www.CF.edu/apply and submit all requirements for admission which includes Financial declaration, evaluation of foreign academic credentials and passport. Once you have submitted all required documents, you will be issued an acceptance letter to CF and Form I-20 Certificate of Nonimmigrant Student Status. Both documents will be required to apply for Change of Status with USCIS.
Second Step: Application to USCIS
You must apply for Change of Status directly with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Below is a list of requirements for your guidance only. The requirements and fees may change anytime, so please follow the directions provided by USCIS.
- Completed I-539 application
- Filing fee payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. View USCIS Fee Calculator.
- Copy of paper or print-out of electronic I-94 from https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-94
- Proof of Financial Support
- Copy of your passport showing your biographical information and expiration date
- Copy of your current U.S. visa (must be valid and unexpired), most recent U.S. entry stamp, and any supporting immigration documents about your visa
- Detailed letter of explanation that explains why you are applying to change your status to F-1 inside the U.S.
- Copy of SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt. Go to www.fmjfee.com to pay the $350 fee and print your receipt.
- CF Acceptance Letter (from CF)
- Copy of new Initial I-20 (from CF). Remember to sign your name.
If you have dependents that will be changing status along with you, include photocopies of their passport and visa information.
If you are currently on a dependent visa (such as E-2 or L-2), include copies of your primary visa holder’s (the E-1’s or L-1’s) proof of valid status. Submit copies of the primary visa holder’s passport, visa, entry stamp, I-94 record, and any other relevant immigration information.
Mailing to USCIS
Send your complete application to USCIS at the following location. When mailing, it is highly recommended that you use express mail, such as UPS, FedEx or DHL, and get a tracking number.
For Express Mail Services (FedEx, UPS, DHL):
USCIS Dallas Lockbox
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries, mail to:
USCIS Dallas Lockbox
PO Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
Processing times vary, so be prepared to wait six or more months to learn the outcome of your application. If you are currently in a visa category that is not authorized to study, you may not enroll in classes until you have received notification from USCIS that your status change has been approved. You may remain in the U.S. while your application is pending, even if your original status expires while the application processing.
Do not travel outside of the U.S. while your change of status case is pending. If you leave the country, USCIS will consider your application abandoned. After you are approved and have begun classes, you may want to travel outside the U.S. during a school break or holiday. Be aware that you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country before you can re-enter the U.S. and resume classes.
If you need to move from your current place of residence and have not yet received your I-797 Notice of Action or letter of denial, you must update your address with USCIS by completing the online AR-11 Change of Address Form. Failure to update your address can lead to your documents being mailed to the wrong place and the postal service will not forward mail sent to you by USCIS. If your documents get lost in the mail, USCIS may charge a fee for sending duplicate documents. It may also further delay the processing time for your application.
Approval and/or Denial
USCIS will notify you of their decision with Form I-797 Notice of Action. The denial letter or approval notice will be mailed to the address listed on Form I-539 in your application. Once you receive your I-797 Notice of Action in the mail, immediately bring the document to CF’s International Student Services Office.
Enrolling in School
If your application is approved, you will begin classes at the next available starting semester. You will be required to attend mandatory New International Student Orientation and purchase student health insurance.