Change of Status

With the exception of a few cases, any foreign individual lawfully admitted to the United States as a non-immigrant, and who is currently maintaining his or her current non-immigrant status, may apply to have his or her non-immigrant classification changed to F-1 or J-1 status and to any other non-immigrant classification. A change of status (immigration status) is a change in a non-immigrant’s primary purpose for being in the United States.

Exceptions

The following non-immigrants are ineligible to apply for change of status to F-1 status:

  • J-1 non-immigrants subject to the Section 212 (e) two-year home residency requirement.
  • Individuals in WT (visa waiver for tourist) or visa WB visa (waiver for business)
  • Students in M-1 status.

On the other hand, individuals in F-2, B-1 or B-2 status are eligible to apply for a change of status but are not permitted to enroll in classes until the change of status has been approved to F-1 or J-1 status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Students in A or G status must file Form I–539 accompanied by a Form I–566, endorsed by the Department of State officials to apply for change of status.

Eligibility

Every individual applying for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 student status through Webster University should ensure that he or she:

  • Has been admitted to Webster University in a degree program or course of study.
  • Has submitted financial document(s) to Webster University indicating that he/she or sponsor has sufficient funds to pay for the student's educational and living expenses.
  • Has obtained a Webster University Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by International Recruitment and International Services.

How to change your current nonimmigrant status to F-1 or J-1 Status?

There are two different options for a current nonimmigrant to change one’s immigration status to F-1 or J-1 Status.

  1. Travel outside the U.S., apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy and re-enter the U.S. with the new visa and in the new immigration status.
  2. Submit Form I-539, Change of Status Application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the United States. The student’s change of status petition will be reviewed based on the student’s ability to demonstrate that the intent to change the primary purpose for being in the U.S. has occurred after arrival in the U.S.

Option 1: Change of Status by Traveling Outside the U.S.

One advantage of using this option is that the process is usually faster than changing your status inside the United States. In addition, the student will obtain a new visa and the new status.

However, this option can also have disadvantages such as the possibility of visa processing delay at the U.S. embassy or consulate and travel expense.

Procedure

Obtain an F-1 student’s Form I-20 or J-1 exchange visitor student’s Form DS-2019 from Webster University. To obtain I-20 or DS-2019, a student needs to submit the following to the International Recruitment and International Services:

  • I-20 Request Form
  • Photocopies of your current valid immigration documents, including the biographic page of your passport, Form I-94 or the print out of the I-94 admission number, visa page and any Form 797 if applicable.
  • Financial document(s) indicating that you and/or sponsor have sufficient funds to pay for your educational expenses as well as living expenses. You can find the total amount required for this academic year here.
  • Travel outside the U.S. and contact a U.S Consulate or Embassy to apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa
  • After receiving your visa you can re-enter the U.S. using the new I-20 or DS-2019 and visa. Please submit copies of these documents to International Recruitment and International Services upon your arrival.

Option 2: Change of status by filing Application to USCIS within the U.S.

The advantage of using this option is that the student doesn’t have to leave the U.S. while USCIS is processing the application for change of status.

However, this option also has several disadvantages namely:

  • The processing can take very long time (three to six months)
  • A student cannot leave the U.S. while the application is pending. Leaving the U.S. will cancels the application and automatically leads to rejection of the application.
  • A student will not obtain the new visa stamp; therefore, will be required to apply for the new visa, the next time he or she travels outside the U.S.
  • The application may be denied, and will require the student to quickly leave the U.S.

Students can submit paper application or online application to change status.

Paper Application Procedure for Change of Status inside the U.S.

Your request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for change of status should consist of the list below, also available from Change of Status Checklist:

Primary Documents    

                                                                                                                      
  • Completed and signed Form I-539 – Application to Extend / Change Non-Immigrant Status
  • Completed Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Check or money order of $290 payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt showing payment of the Form I-901 $200 (for F-1 student) or $180 (for J-1 exchange student) SEVIS fee. You will need the new I-20 or DS-2019 to pay the SEVIS fee. Go to fmjfee.com for more payment details information
  • Photocopy of the new Form I-20 or DS-2019 from Webster University signed and dated.
  • Photocopy of your current Form I-94 (front and back) and/or the electronic copy of the I-94 Admission record available from CBP.gov/I94 and any I-797, Notice of Action
  • Photocopy of your passport biographical page showing name, photo, date of birth, and expiration date
  • Photocopy of your current visa stamp
  • Original and current financial support document showing you have sufficient fund to pay for your educational expenses and cost of living (such as 3 months bank statement or scholarship letter)

Other Documents Based on Your Visa Type

For a student changing status from F-2 or J-2 to F-1 or J-1 status:

  • Photocopy of your spouse’s or parent’s Form I-94 – Arrival / Departure Card (front and back) or the electronic printout of the I-94 admission record
  • Photocopies of all your spouse’s or parent’s Forms I-20 or DS-2019
  • Photocopy of your spouse’s or parent’s current F-1 or J-1 visa
  • Photocopy of your spouse’s or parent’s passport biographical page showing name, photo, date of birth, expiration date

For a student changing status from other dependent nonimmigrant status such as H-4, L-2 etc. to F-1 or J-1 status:

  • Photocopy of marriage or birth certificate (translated into English) showing proof of relationship
  • A letter or pay stub from your parent’s or spouse’s current employer confirming that your parent is still employed under the terms and conditions of the original petition.
  • Photocopy of your parent’s or spouse’s Form I-94 card (front & back) or the electronic printout of the I-94 admission record available from CBP.gov/I94.
  • Photocopy of your parent’s or spouse’s passport biographical picture page showing name, photo, passport number and expiration date.
  • Photocopy of your parent’s or spouse’s most recently issued visa (if any).

Where to Apply?

Send completed paper application to one of the addresses below:

By U.S. Postal Service:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

 

By Express Deliveries (such as UPS, FedEx, etc.):

USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
 

Online Application Procedure

Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, can now be filed online through USCIS ELIS. If you choose to electronically file (e-file) the Form I-539, you will be required to create an online account, submit evidence electronically and use a credit card or bank account to submit payment. You will need to scan and upload into the system any documents required to be submitted with your application request. Please use only same format of file type e.g. .PDF or .JPG etc.

Document Type Categories

You should upload most of these documents

Financial Documents

  • Bank Statements 
  • Financial Award such as Scholarships, Grants etc.
  • Affidavit of Support
  • Any Other Financial Evidence

Identity Documents

  • Passport
  • Any Other Identity Evidence – such as your cover letter to USCIS that supports the identity information on the application

Immigration Status documents

  • Form I-94 – Arrival Departure Record
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Any Other Immigration Status Evidence such as Form I-797

Passport Stamp

  • Visa stamp
  • Passport stamp

While Application is Pending

Processing Time: It may take up to 3-6 months for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make a decision on your change of status application. After the USCIS receives your application, a Form I-797, Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number will be mailed to you. You can check the status of your application online using that receipt number by clicking this link: My Case Status.

Please inform International Recruitment and International Services when you receive a response from the USCIS. If your application is approved, please bring or send us a photocopy of your Form I-797 Approval Notice and the new Form I-94.

Attending Classes and On-Campus Employment: You are prohibited from beginning classes if your current visa is B-1/B-2 or F-2 while your change of status application is pending. If your current visa is none of the above then you may begin to attend classes before your change of status has been approved.

In addition, you may not begin or engage in on-campus employment of any kind until after your change of status to F-1 or J-1 student status has been approved.

Travelling outside the U.S. while your application is pending: Students must not travel outside the U.S. until after a decision has been made on their change of status application. If you leave the U.S. before USCIS decides on your case, then your application will be considered abandoned and will be rejected by USCIS.

Note: If your current visa status has already expired or your spouse or parent has already quit his/her job or been terminated, please consult an immigration attorney. You may not be eligible to apply for a change of status through Webster University.