Under certain conditions, a person in a non-resident visa status (such as B2, E2, F1, F2, J1, J2, H1, H4) may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for a change of immigration status.
The change of status application must be submitted prior to the expiration of the current valid status, as shown on the I-94 arrival/departure record or print out. In the case of H-1B applying for F-1, USCIS MUST receive the change of status application BEFORE the current H-1B status expires.
For more detailed information, view our Change of Status Handout
To apply for your I-20 please complete the following Academic Certification for International Students Form.
There are two ways of gaining a new nonimmigrant status:
Option 1: Travel and Re-entry - Leave the U.S., apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate, and reenter the U.S. with the new visa and other relevant documents. You will gain your new status when you are admitted into the U.S.
- This process is usually faster than changing status in the U.S.
- You will obtain the visa and the status
- Possibility of visa processing delay
- Expense of travel
Option 2: Change Status in the U.S. - Submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status. This option allows you to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the U.S. With this option you may gain the new status but you will not receive a new visa; visas are only issued outside the U.S.
- Ability to stay in the U.S. during processing
- Avoid the hassle of a visa application process (for now)
- Processing can be very slow (6 months to a year), which may jeopardize your ability to begin your new activity, such as studying or accepting a research or teaching assistantship or other campus employment.
- You must stay in the U.S. during processing; exiting the U.S. cancels the application
- You must still obtain a visa stamp to match your status the next time you travel outside the U.S. (except for trips under 30 days to Canada or Mexico)
- The application may be denied, which could require you to quickly depart the U.S.