Can I study in my current non-immigrant status?
If you are already in the U.S. with sponsorship from a different school, employer, or other entity, it may be possible for you to take courses at UChicago in your current status withot changing sponsorship. Consult with your current immigration sponsor far ahead of your study plans to see what options you may have.
Most students are either:
- Currently in the U.S. with F-1/J-1 status that is sponsored by another school or entity (e.g. Fulbright, U.S. high schools)
- Currently in the U.S. on a visa that permits ancillary study: employment-based visas (H-1B, etc.), government/consular/international organization visas (A, G, etc.), or dependent visa classifications (F-2, H-4, L-2, J-2, etc.)
- Visitors in B-1/B-2 tourist/visitor status or who have entered with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are NOT legally eligible to study or take courses. Studying at UChicago while in tourist/visitor status is a status violation and may negatively impact future immigration.
If you are unsure whether you can study in your current visa status, contact the sponsor of your current visa status for more information.
Study With F-1 or J-1 Status Sponsored by Another School or Entity
- If you are currently in the U.S. in F-1/J-1 status and sponsored by a high school, college, university, or J-1 program, you may be able to study at UChicago without changing your sponsorship.
Most often one of the following scenarios:
- Summer Graham School Programs: you are a continuing student at another school and will be enrolling in an incidental summer programs that occur in the vacation period between school years
- Fulbright/IIE students: If you have a DS-2019 from Fulbright or IIE and your 'site of activity' is UChicago. If this is the case, your immigration sponsor is Fulbright/IIE. Review our website if you will need to change immigration sponsorship to UChicago in the future
- You must check with your current immigration sponsor to see what options you have and if you are eligible to do so.
- All immigration advisement and questions must be answered by your immigration sponsor (not OIA)
- If you are transferring your academic record to UChicago and/or not continuing in your current school, it is very likely you will need to transfer your SEVIS record to UChicago.
- OPT/STEM OPT Students: F-1 regulations prohibit students from beginning a new degree program while on OPT (or STEM OPT). Contact your current sponsor for guidance about whether or not you are eligible to take UChicago courses while on OPT.
- Questions? See our FAQs below.
How can I determine if I am able to study in my current status?
You must check with your current immigration sponsor to verify that you are legally eligible to study at UChicago in your current status. Your sponsor is the entity or company that issued your immigration documents (e.g. the current employer or school).
Which visa statuses allow for study in the U.S.?
The SEVP Sheet on Nonimmigrants: Who Can Study explains study benefits for primaries and dependents in different immigration statuses.
I verified with my sponsor that I am eligible to attend courses in my current status. What do I need to do for OIA?
If you are going to attend the program in your current status, you don’t need to submit anything to OIA or receive anything from our office.
Will I be eligible for CPT, OPT, or on-campus employment with my current status?
No. Work authorization is a benefit of F-1/J-1 status. If you are not in F-1/J-1 status, you will not be eligible for any F-1/J-1 benefits, including work authorization. Contact your immigration sponsor for questions you have about your eligibility to work in your current status or what other options you may have.
If I start school in my current status, can I change to F-1 or J-1 status in the future?
Typically, yes. As long as you are otherwise eligible and are continuing in your full-time academic program, you should be able to apply for F-1 or J-1 status in the future. For example, you could start a two-year program in H-4 status (assuming your sponsor allows it) and change to F-1 after the first year. You must attend full-time courses to be eligible for F-1/J-1 sponsorship.
However, not all UChicago programs are able to sponsor students in F-1/J-1 status. If your program is non-credit, part of a certificate program, part-time, or not academic in nature, it is likely that it does not fit the government requirements for sponsorship and the University is legally unable to sponsor you in F-1/J-1 status. Contact your program or OIA if you have any questions about future University sponsorship.
How do I change my status to F-1/J-1, if needed?
If you do want to change your status to F-1 and you are going into an eligible UChicago program, your first step is to request an I-20/DS-2019 and then change your status by either departing the U.S. and obtaining an F-1/J-1 visa and re-entering; or submitting a Change of Status application in the U.S. (if eligible). An overview of the entire process can be found on our admitted student website.
If I get an I-20 , will it automatically change my status to F-1?
No. The I-20 itself does not change your status to F-1 and does not make you eligible to legally attend courses. The I-20 just shows that you are eligible to apply for F-1 status. You will still need to follow the change of status procedures and either change your status through travel or submitting a change of status application in the U.S. (if eligible).
If I change to F-1/J-1 status in the middle of my program, will I still be eligible for OPT, CPT, or other employment benefits?
Generally, yes. OPT/CPT and other employment eligibility is based on the time spent in your full time academic program in total, not necessarily on the time you've spent in F-1/J-1 status.
If I stay in my current status, can I work on campus?
No. You must contact your immigration sponsor for information about any benefits of your current status, including any employment eligibility.