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International Student Services

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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 through the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) 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.

ISS recommends students use ELIS (The USCIS Electronic Immigration System) to file the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

Change of Status I-20 Request Form

Frequently Asked Questions About Applying for a Change of Status

Basic Application Documents Needed to Apply for a Change of Status through ELIS
  1. Set up a USCIS ELIS account at www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis
  2. Credit card (for $290 payment)
  3. Proof of payment of $200 SEVIS Fee - for change to F-1 visa
    • For change to F-1, the school code is BUF214F00033000
    • This may be paid online at www.fmjfee.com after issuance of new I-20 or DS-2019
  4. Signed I-20 issued by ISS and signed by applicant (Change of Status I-20 Request Form)
  5. Financial documentation. If using bank statements, include the last three months.
  6. I-94 printed from U.S. Customs and Border Protection website or both sides of I-94 card.
  7. Copy of visa
  8. Copy of picture page of passport. Passport MUST be valid for next six months.
  9. If including dependents in the application, provide copies of their immigration documents as well.

 

 

Additional Change of Status Documentation Requirements

Along with the Basic Documents listed above, applicants must provide additional documentation specific to their change of status request:

Change of Status from F2 to F1

  • Copy of spouse (or parent) I-20 that lists applicant as a dependent.
  • Copy of spouse (or parent) F1 immigration documents (I-20, visa, I-94)

Note:
Applicant must be accepted to RIT before filing the change of status application.
Applicant may not begin studies until the application is approved.

Change of Status from F1 to F2

  • Copy of applicant's previous I-20 showing him or her listed as an F1 student
  • Copies of spouse or parent F1 immigration documents (I-20, visa, I-94)
  • Official transcripts for applicant and F1 spouse or parent.
  • Marriage or Birth Certificate proving relationship to F1 student.

Notes:
Applicants must maintain their F1 immigration status (remain a full-time student) until the application is approved.
Once the application is approved, all coursework and employment must immediately cease.

Change of Status from H4 to F1

  • Copy of H4 Approval Notice
  • Copies of H1's immigration documents (approval notice, visa, passport, I-94)
  • Letter of employment from H1 sponsor.
  • Official transcripts if currently enrolled. Admission letter if not enrolled.

Notes:
Applicants must be accepted to RIT before filing the change of status application.
Applicants may enroll in classes in H4 status while the application is pending.

Change of Status from H-1 to F-1

  • Copies of H1 immigration documents (approval notice, visa, passport, I-94)
  • Letter of employment from H1 sponsor
  • Offical transcripts if currently enrolled. Admission letter if not enrolled.

Notes:
Applicants must be accepted to RIT before filing a change of status application.
Applicants may enroll in classes in H1 status while the application is pending.

Changing Status 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.

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