Changing Status in the U.S.

Overview

An individual in lawful immigration status already in the U.S. may apply to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status from a current to desired change of status. The Change of Status application (Form I-539) is processed by USCIS and may take several months to be approved. 

Filing an application with USCIS

Eligibility & Considerations

  • You must be maintaining your current status when you apply.  

  • J-1 students who are subject to and have not fulfilled the two-year home residency requirement, will need to travel to change status. 

  • Individuals in F-2 status are permitted part-time study. If you intend to study full-time, you will want to change your status from F-2 to F-1, and may not study or enroll full-time until you are in valid F-1 status. 

  • Individuals in B-1/B-2 status are prohibited from enrolling in a program of study until the change of status is approved.

Timing

Steps

  1. Obtain form I-20 (for F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for J-1 status) from OIA. To do so you must follow all instructions provided on the admitted student section of our website.
  2. Obtain, complete and sign a Form I-539.  Follow the instructions that come with the form carefully.
  3. Enclose with your I-539 and I-20 or DS-2019, all relevant documents per the I-539 instructions.
    1. I-539A is part of the I-539 and should be used if you are applying for more than one person using your I-539 application. Use a separate I-539A for each additional applicant. For more information, read through the I-539A instructions.
  4. Mail documents to USCIS per the I-539 instructions (filing address dependent upon U.S. address used on I-539).

While Application is Pending

  • International travel while your application for a change of status is pending with USCIS may result in rejection. Given processing timelines, please plan accordingly.
  • You are not eligible for employment (on-campus or off-campus) or other F-1 or J-1 benefits until your change of status has been approved.
  • For additional information on changing your non-immigrant status, please see https://www.uscis.gov/i-539