Filing a Change of Status
As of April 12, 2002, applicants in the B1/B2 Tourist/Business class may NOT
begin school until after the Change of Status application has been filed and APPROVED
by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.You are
advised to review your decision, and seek the advice of the college
International Student Affairs Office or an experienced immigration attorney. For
specific information and to obtain the Form I-539 required to complete this
procedure, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services home page at www.uscis.gov
and click on the "forms and fees" section to find the form and
Your immigration status is your
responsibility. College staff can provide advice and assist, but the
decision and details related to the filing of a change of status application are
the responsibility of the applicant. The decision to approve or deny an
application is the decision of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service,
and applicants will need to comply with the results of the decision.
A non-immigrant may apply for a change
of status to another non-immigrant category if s/he has maintained his/her
non-immigrant status while in the U.S. The
non-immigrant must file the change of status application BEFORE
his/her current permission to stay in the U.S. expires. A non-immigrant who has
overstayed his/her legal stay is not eligible to apply for a change of status
while in the U.S. Also, a non-immigrant who enters the U.S. on the visa waiver
program is NOT ELIGIBLE to extend or change his/her status. The
following procedure is for a non-immigrant who wants to change his/her status to
- The school's Designated School Official
and/or the applicant should first determine whether the applicant has
maintained his/her non-immigrant status while in the U.S., and if the
applicant is therefore eligible to change his/her status in the U.S. Review
the applicant's I-94 card to verify that the applicant has not overstayed
his/her legal stay.
- The prospective student must gain admission
to the college or university, and receive the Form I-20 document from the
- If the applicant is eligible to file a
change of status application, collect the following items:
- Original Form I-20 issued by the school.
- Financial documentation showing
that the prospective student has adequate funds for his/her
study (submit photocopies of financial documentation equal to or
greater than $18,510). A
completed I-539 form (if the prospective student has dependents,
their information should e included on the supplement)
- Photocopies of these pages from
the applicant's passport: expiration date, passport number, page
with visa and passport photograph.
- Photocopy of I-94 card (front
and back)-include photocopies of dependents I-94 cards if they
are included in the application.
- For J visa, H visa applicants,
include proof of complying with current visa requirements, such
as proof of employment, verification letter, etc.
- A personal check, cashier's
check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland
Security for $290.
- Optional but recommended: A
statement written by the applicant on why s/he wants to change
his/her non-immigrant status. This may include information about
what the applicant has done since entering the United States,
and why the applicant has now changed their intended purpose.
- Pay SEVIS Fee of $200 and fill
out Form I-901
- Make photocopies of the entire application
for the applicant's admission file at the college, and for the applicant's
personal file before mailing. The application must be submitted while the
applicant is in legal status, and before the expiration date of the current
entry status as shown on I-94 card. It is recommended that the application
be mailed by express, priority or certified mail, so the applicant has proof
it was mailed. Mail all the items above to the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service at:
USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10539
Laguna Niguel, CA
- Student should receive a letter of receipt
from USCIS within two to three weeks after submitting the application. The
applicant can wait about 1-6 months for a response from USCIS depending on the
processing time. Current processing time is two to six months. If the
application is approved, the student will receive the I-20 Student copy back
from USCIS with a stamp in the right hand corner indicating the date of
approval. The student also will receive a new I-94 card indicating the new
status, F-1, with permission to stay in the U.S. for duration of status. If
the applicant's petition is denied, s/he would receive a letter to depart
the U.S. within a certain time frame.
Travel-If the applicant is considering travel outside of the U.S.
within a short time of applying for the change of status, s/he might want to
consider traveling home with the Form I-20 document and evidence of financial
support, and applying at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an F-1 visa. The
student would then obtain F-1 status by entering the U.S. with valid F-1 visa
and the Form I-20 document. There are several advantages; students who arrive
with their F-1 visa in the passport can immediately seek on-campus employment
and are eligible to obtain a social security number, which is helpful in
obtaining a driver's license in the state of Illinois.
Timing of the application-The
timing of an application to change from B-2 to F-1 status may affect the
outcome. In section 184.108.40.206.4 of the Advisors Manual of Federal Regulations, it
states "Change from B-2 to F-1 status," Courts have held that a rapid
sequence of events following entry to the United States may demonstrate an
individual's preconceived intent to be a student and that the individual did
not, in fact, enter the country as a visitor. Consequently, individuals who
enter the United States in B-2 status either having already applied to schools
or carrying school records with them and applying shortly after entry will be
denied a change to F-1 status. DSOs should so advise such individuals. Most of
these individuals will want to consider temporarily leaving the United States,
obtaining an F-1 visa at a consular office, and re-entering the country in F-1
status. Others who anticipate difficulty in re-entering the United States, or
wish reassurance that they face no unforeseen difficulties, will want to discuss
their circumstances with an attorney experienced in non-immigration law".
If the USCIS suspects that the applicant's true intention was to enter the U.S. in
order to go to school, they may deny the application, or send the applicant a
questionnaire asking detailed information in order to determine when the student
made the decision to attend school.
Employment-The prospective student may
not begin employment until the change of status to F-1 has been approved.
Students approved for legal F-1 status are eligible only for on-campus jobs for
the first year. Off-campus employment is allowed only in specific circumstances
usually related to the practical training experience in the degree program area.
who are approved for a change of status are in "F-1 visa student
status;" however, they do not receive an actual visa from the USCIS, but are
permitted to extend their stay as students. A person approved for a change of
status who then wishes to travel outside the U.S. must include plans to return
to the home country to obtain the F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy. A student visa
can only be obtained outside the United States at an American Embassy. Bring
proof of finances, the approved Form I-20, and some verification of the current
legal status, such as a letter from the school's Designated School Official.