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Change & Reinstatement of Status

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Changing status to F1 or J-1 to attend UD

If you are currently in the United States in another nonimmigrant status, you can obtain an F-1 or J-1 student status via travel abroad OR by applying to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status without departing the United States.

Acquiring F-1 or J-1 Status by Travel

You can acquire an F-1 or J-1 status by leaving the United States before commencing your academic program, apply for an F-1 or J-1 student visa stamp at a U.S. consulate and reenter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status.
If you decide that you would like to change your status by travel, here are the steps you should take:

  • Apply for an I-20 Form (F-1) or DS-2019 Form (J-1) by completing the I-20 Request Form and submitting it to OISS with your funding information.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee when you receive the I-20 or DS-2019 Form (Instructions on how to pay the SEVIS fee are available on the OISS website)
  • Apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa (stamp) at a US embassy or consulate abroad. OISS recommends that the individual apply for the visa stamp in his or her country of citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Present the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, passport, visa stamp, and SEVIS fee receipt to the immigration inspector. You should receive an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Form (white card), indicating F-1 or J-1 status.

Acquiring F-1 or J-1 Status in the United States

If you are currently in the United States, you can apply for a change of status from certain nonimmigrant classifications to F-1 or J-1 student status without leaving the United States. Please note that USCIS officers are instructed to adjudicate all applications for change to F-1 status with reference to the same standards that consular officers use in determining eligibility for an F-1 visa. It is recommended that the student contact OISS to discuss your eligibility to apply for change of status and the timing of the application.

Status while the COS application is Pending.

Generally, nonimmigrants who have filed a timely application for change of status to a different nonimmigrant status or have filed an application for extension of stay can remain in the United States while their application is being adjudicated by USCIS, but only if the person was in valid nonimmigrant status when he or she filed the application, and the person's nonimmigrant status will continue to be valid up until the date that the new status is requested to begin.

An applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 may start attending school even before the application has been submitted or approved, except for the following, who must wait until their change of status application is approved by USCIS:

  • Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from B-1 or B-2 status; and
  • Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from F-2 dependent status (except in the case of F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level)

Also, please note that an applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 may NOT work on-campus campus or receive an assistantship position (GA,RA,TA) until the change of status application is approved by USCIS.

Restrictions on changing to F-1 status

Certain nonimmigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 while in the United States. Such nonimmigrants may still be eligible for F-1 status, but the only way they can get F-1 status is through obtaining an F-1 visa and re-entering the United States. The following nonimmigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 in the United States:

  • M-1 students
  • C, D, K, and S nonimmigrants
  • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training
  • J nonimmigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement
  • Aliens admitted as visitors under 8 C.F.R. § 212.1(e)
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program.

Application Procedures

If you decide that you would like to change your status in the United States, here are the steps you should take:

  1. Contact OISS to discuss eligibility and timing of COS application.
  2. Provide OISS with the following documents:
    • A photocopy of your Form I-94 (front and back)
    • A photocopy of your passport personal data page(s) (i.e., the page(s) with your photograph and the expiration date of your passport)
    • A photocopy of your visa
    • Additional Documents (I-797 with employment letter if on H-1B or h3 visa)
    • Evidence of financial support (e.g., Funding letter from your department/or a bank statement showing personal or family funds) see cost page for estimate.
  3. OISS will issue your new I-20/DS-2019 and email you your new SEVIS number along with instructions on how to pay the SEVIS fee.
  4. Make an appointment to complete your change your status application.
  5. Collect the following documents and copies and bring them with you to the appointment.
    • Filing fee: $370 (make personal check payable to “Department of Homeland Security”)
    • Form I-539
    • All documents mentioned in step 2

Changing status to F-2 / J-2

To qualify for F-2/J-2 status, your dependent must meet the following requirements:

  • He or she is your spouse (marriage license) or child (under age 21) (birth certificate).
  • The dependents have a valid passport.
  • You or your dependents have sufficient funds to cover their expenses in the United States (you must show an extra $3000 per dependent).
  • Your dependents intend to leave the United States upon the termination of the status of your F-1/J-1 student status.

F-2 Restrictions:

  • May not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.
  • May not engage in full-time study.
  • F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level
  • Part-time study is permitted if it is avocational or recreational in nature (study to pursue a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature)

J-2 Restrictions:

  • There is no regulatory restriction on study for J-2 dependents.
  • J-2 dependents can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS in order to be employed in the United States but may begin employment only after receiving the EAD from USCIS (See J-2 employment for more information)

Acquiring F-2/J-2 Status by Travel

Your dependent(s) can acquire an F-2.J-2 status by leaving the United States, applying for an F-2/J-2 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate and reentering the United States in F-2/J-2 status.
If your dependent(s) decide that they would like to change thier status by travel, here are the steps you should take:

  • Apply for an I-20/DS-2019 Form for your dependents by completing the Visa Request Form for Dependents and submitting it to OISS with your funding information.
  • Apply for an F-2/J-2 visa (stamp) at a US embassy or consulate abroad. OISS recommends that the individual apply for the visa stamp in his or her country of citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Present the Form I-20/DS-2019, passport, visa stamp, and SEVIS fee receipt to the immigration inspector. You should receive an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Form (white card), indicating F-2/J-2 status.

Acquiring F-2/J-2 Status in the United States

If your dependents are currently in the United States, they can apply for a change of status from certain nonimmigrant classifications to F-2/J-2 status without leaving the United States. Please note that USCIS officers are instructed to adjudicate all applications for change to F-2/J-2 status with reference to the same standards that consular officers use in determining eligibility for an F-2/J-2 visa. It is recommended that the student contact OISS to discuss their eligibility to apply for change of status and the timing of the application.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

If your dependent(s) decide they would like to change your status in the U.S. , here are the steps you should take:

  1. Contact OISS to discuss eligibility and timing of COS application.
  2. Collect the following documents and copies and bring them with you to the appointment.
    • Filing fee: $370 (make personal check payable to “Department of Homeland Security”)
    • Form I-539
    • A photocopy of your dependent's current visa (if you obtained a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate)
    • A photocopy of your dependent's Form I-94 (front and back)
    • A photocopy of your dependent's passport personal data page(s) (i.e., the page(s) with your photograph and the expiration date of your passport)
    • Photocopies of all immigration documents you have held for current and previous status in the U.S.
    • A photocopy of your all your I-20/DS-2019 forms (pages 1 and 3 only)
    • A photocopy of your Form I-94 (front and back)
    • A photocopy of your spouse’s passport personal data page(s) (i.e., the page(s) with photograph and the expiration date of passport)
    • Evidence of financial support (e.g., letter from your spouse’s department regarding the terms of his/her assistantship and/or a bank statement showing personal or family funds with enough funds to support your spouse as well)
    • A copy of your marriage certificate or child's birth certificate
  3. OISS will issue you and your dependents new I-20s/DS-2019s

Note: An F-2/J-2 dependent's status is valid only if the F-1/J-1 student is in the United States and continues to maintain F-1/J-1 status. If the F-1/J-1 visa holder is traveling outside the U.S. for a long period of time, the F-2/J-2 dependents should not remain in the country and must accompany the F-1/J-1 holder.

Updates:

  • Starting May 22nd, 2012, applicant can file the I-539 form online through USCIS ELIS. For more information, please visit the USCIS website
  • For I-539 applications filed through USCIS ELIS, USCIS will accept a scanned, electronic version of a valid and properly executed Form I-20 or DS-2019. The original Form I-20 or DS-2019 need not be submitted.
  • For I-539 applications filed on paper, USCIS will accept a photocopy of a valid and properly executed Form I-20 or DS-2019. The original Form I-20 or DS-2019 need not be submitted.
  • For both ELIS and paper filings, USCIS will no longer return a copy of Form I-20 or DS-2019 to the applicant after the application is approved.