Changing to F-1 Student Status
When you arrived in the United States, you had a particular reason for coming. This reason, or "principal activity," determined your status. At the port of entry, an inspector recorded your principal activity and you date of departure on the I-94 card stapled in your passport. Now, however, your purpose for being in the country has changed. You may be under new circumstances that drive you to study here, or your principal activity may be coming to an end. If this is the case, and you have a specific educational goal you want to pursue full-time, you need to change your status to F-1 in order to remain here legally.
- Your status must allow you to change. The following status cannot change to F-1: C, D, some J's, K, M, N, S, WB, and WT. A and G must get permission from the State Department by filing Form I-566 before applying for a change of status.
- You must be here legally.
- The date of departure on your I-94 Card must be valid up to 30 days before you begin the program of study.
- You may not have ended your principal activity earlier than 30 days before you begin the program of study.
- B's and F-2 status visitors need to prove they haven't begun a course of study.
- You must be admitted for a full course of study and have the financial ability to support the costs of living and studying in the United States.
- B status visitors need to prove that they did not intentionally apply for the wrong visa or deliberately enter the United States with the wrong status.
- You must be able to prove you have a permanent residence in your country.
- Complete Form I-539
- Pay $290 filing fee, money order/check payable to the Department of Homeland Security
- Submit your original I-94 Card (if dependent status attach a copy of primary's card)
- Submit evidence of financial support (same as presented for Form I-20)
- Copies of your passport and U.S. visa
- Letter to USCIS explaining the reason for the change of status
- Provide proof of your maintenance of legal status (include primary status holder)
- Pay the $200 SEVIS fee at www.FMJfee.com
- Send all materials by certified mail to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Important Notes & Limitations
- Please note that this change of status does not change your visa. If you are planning to leave the United States after you change your status, then you'll need to acquire an F-1 visa at your country of residence.
- If you change from a B visa it will be very difficult to acquire an F-1 visa in your home country because of suspicion of visa fraud. If you plan on leaving the country, it is recommended to get an F-1 visa before starting school.