Change of Visa Status
A non-immigrant alien who is already in the U.S. may apply for a change of status if he/she has a valid passport and has maintained lawful immigration status up to the time the application is filed and adjudicated (i.e. approved or denied).
Approval of a change of status applications to a student visa category is not automatic or guaranteed. The USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) adjudications officers are alerted as to whether the applicant possesses a “preconceived intent” to study in the U.S., particularly when the applicant is requesting a change from B-2 tourist status to F-1. For more detailed information regarding eligibility it is strongly recommended that you visit the USCIS website: www.uscis.gov
Limitations & Restrictions
You are not in legal F-1 or J-1 status until your application for change of status is approved. You must abide by the immigration restrictions of your current (visa status you are changing from) immigrant or non-immigrant status.
Changing to F-1 status from J-1 status:
- J-1 non-immigrants subject to the I.N.A. § 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement are not permitted to change status to F-1 within the U.S. These individuals must obtain a change of status by exiting the U.S., applying for an F-1 visa, and then re-entering the U.S.
- An applicant for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 may not begin a full-time academic program prior to the application being approved, unless authorized by the current immigration status.
Travel abroad before approved change of status:
- No employment benefits are available to F-1 or J-1 while the change of status is pending approval.
Travel abroad after approved change of status:
- If you depart the U.S. after filing the change of status application but before it is approved, you will need to obtain a new I-20/DS-2019 and to apply for your student visa at a U.S. consulate for reentry to the U.S.
- If you depart the U.S. after the change of status is approved, you will need to apply for your student visa at a U.S. consulate for reentry to the U.S.