Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

International Student Services

Button to open mobile menu Button to open mobile search

Site-wide links

Changing Status

There are two ways that individuals in the United States in a non-immigrant status may change to a different immigration status. They may:

  1. Travel out of the U.S. and apply at a U.S. consulate for a new type of visa stamp and then re-enter the U.S. in the new visa classification.
  2. Send an application to a U.S.C.I.S. service center while remaining within the U.S. If you change your visa status this way, the next time you travel out of the U.S., you would still need to go to a U.S. consulate and obtain the visa stamp appropriate to your new visa classification.
General Procedures for Aquiring F-1 or J-1 Status While in the United States

USCIS reviews applications for change of status based on an applicant's ability to document and justify a change of intent after arrival to the United States. Applications are approved at the discretion of the USCIS adjudicator.

Please note the applicant's current non-immigrant status must be valid at the time the application is received at USCIS and that the current status will continue to be valid up until the date that the new status is requested to begin. If USCIS determines that the change would be approved more than 30 days in advance of the program start date, there is a chance the application could be denied. It is recommended that individuals contact an ISS advisor to discuss their eligibility to apply for change of status and the timing of the application.

Applicants must submit the documents listed below to USCIS. An applicant may need to include additional documents depending on the immigration status he or she currently holds. Please refer to the appropriate instructions in the section immediately below.

  • A cover letter from the applicant requesting the change of status and explaining the circumstances, including information about purpose of entry to the United States in the current immigration status, why and how the applicant's goals/intentions changed after arriving in the United States, and any other relevant information. Because F and J are non-immigrant visa status categories, applicants should demonstrate strong ties to their home countries or otherwise show that they do not intend to immigrate to the United States.
  • Form I-539, available from the Immigration Forms page of the USCIS web site. Dependent family members changing their dependent status (to F-2 or J-2) should be listed on Supplement 1 on Form I-539.
  • Processing fee, check or money order payable to the US Department of Homeland Security (see above link for fee amount). A single fee covers the primary applicant and any F-2 or J-2 dependents listed on Supplement 1 of Form I-539.
  • Original SEVIS Form I-20 (for F-1) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1) issued by the RIT. The F-1 or J-1 applicant must sign the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and the SEVIS forms for their dependents.
  • Receipt confirming payment of the SEVIS fee (Form I-901). For payment instructions, please refer to SEVIS fee payment website. Online payment of the SEVIS fee will allow a confirmation receipt to be printed immediately.
  • Copies of passport identification page and visa stamp Copies should include the page showing the passport expiration date if separate from the identity page.
  • Copy of your I-94 card (front and back if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport  (if issued electronic I-94) 
  • Copies of the financial documentation used to obtain the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from RIT.

Individuals currently holding dependent status should also include copies of the primary's passport, I-94, and proof of status.

Criteria Specific to Current Immigration Status

Individuals in certain immigration categories will need to supply additional documentation with the change of status application and/or meet certain eligibility criteria. Please consult an ISS advisor with any questions about documentary or eligibility requirements.

Change of Status from H-1 or H-4

In addition to the items in the section above, applicants should include:

  • Copies of all previously issued Forms I-797 showing H status
  • Evidence that the individual has maintained valid H status e.g. a letter from the H-1 employer confirming current employment and 2-3 most recent pay stubs
  • For H-4: copies of spouse's or parent's H-1 immigration documents: Passport, I-94 card (front and back if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport  (if issued electronic I-94), Forms I-797, and 2-3 recent pay stubs.

Once the change of status to F-1 or J-1 student is effective, the individual must stop working for the H-1 employer.

It is permissible to begin study while the change of status application is pending.

Change of Status from F-2

In addition to the items in the section above, applicants should include:

  • Copies of all previously issued F-2  I-20 forms
  • Copies of spouse's or parent's (F-1) immigration documents: I-20s, passport information page, visa stamp page and I-94 card (front and back if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport  (if issued electronic I-94) If the spouse or parent is on post-completion Optional Practical Training, the application should also include a copy of the spouse or parent's Employment Authorization Document.

The F-1 status must be approved before commencement of study is permitted.

Changing from B-1 or B-2

Applications for change of status from B-1 or B-2 to F-1 made by individuals who have either already applied to US schools from abroad or who apply for a change of status shortly after entry to the United States are routinely denied. However, if the B-2 visa is marked prospective student, the change of status may be approved.

The F-1 status must be approved before commencement of study is permitted.

Back To Top Arrow