If you are in the United States on a visa that does not allow you to attend school, and you decide you want to become a student, you may need to apply to change your status to an F-1 Student Visa. See the charts below to determine if you are permitted to study on the visa you are currently on, or if you must change to student status.

 

The Following Visa Types are Eligible to Attend School in the U.S.

If you are currently in the U.S. on one of the following visa types, you can attend school full time without changing your visa status
A-1, A-2, E-1, E-2, G-2, H-1, H-4, I, J-2, or Permanent Resident (“Green Card” Holder)
Note: There are many other categories and exceptions than listed above. If a dependent is turning 21 years old, if you need or want to change status without leaving the United States for some other reason, or for other situations, it is highly recommended that you seek legal assistance.

* Except J-2 if have the 212(e) two-year home residence requirement unless they obtain a waiver of 212(e).

If you are in the U.S. on one of these visas or as a Permanent Resident, you can attend a full-time program in The Tseng College. You are not required to change your status or change your visa type.

If you are not eligible to attend school on your current visa, you must change your status to an F-1 student visa. That can be done out of the U.S. (the easy way), or while remaining in the U.S. (the hard way).

The Easy Way to Change to F-1 Status

Leave the US, obtain F-1 visa, and return to the U.S. to study.

Follow the same process that you would if you were applying to come to the United States from your home country to study for the first time.

  • Apply to and receive acceptance from a Tseng College program.
  • Receive a new initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" from your designated school official (DSO).
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
  • In your home country, apply for a visa to travel to the United States
  • Return to the United States to begin your studies.

NOT the Easy Way to Change to F-1 Status

Remain in the United States and submit an application to USCIS requesting to change your status to F-1.

Not everyone is eligible to request a change of status while in the US. Check the charts below to see if you are eligible.

Warnings and Information:

  • Changing status while remaining in the U.S. can take a very long time and involves more risk. The average wait time for applications to be processed is about 10 – 14 weeks.
  • A change of status application can have an effect on your status and eligibility for any future immigration benefits. You should consult an experienced immigration lawyer before submitting any requests.
  • Your passport must be valid for your entire requested period of stay in the new, F-1 visa status.
  • Cannot apply to change to F-1 if not currently ‘in status.’
  • Current status must be valid up until at least 30 days before the day that school starts.
  • If your current visa status does not remain valid until 30 days before the start date of school (which will be the start date on your I-20), you can be denied by USCIS. To avoid this, it is recommended that you file an extension of stay for your current visa, but that should be done by an experienced immigration lawyer. Those applications are never done by a DSO.
  • If USCIS has not approved your change of status (COS) within 5 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, contact ARC to defer your start date to the next session. Your application will be moved to the next start date and the start date on your I-20 will be moved forward also.
  • While waiting for an answer from USCIS (they say that your application is “being adjudicated”), you remain in your current visa status.
  • If you leave the United States while COS application is pending, the application is cancelled. Even if you return to the U.S. to find that your COS has been approved, it can be withdrawn at a later date.
If COS Application is Approved If COS Application is Denied
  • If COS is approved, you will receive from USCIS a Form I-797A "Notice of Action", which will include an updated Form I-94 "Arrival/Departure Record" listing your new status.
  • If approved after your current visa status has expired, you will not have unlawful presence counted against you.
  • If approved and become an F-1 student, the next time you leave the United States, you must make an appointment at the U.S. Consulate to change your visa to your new visa status – before returning to the U.S.
  • If your current status is still valid after denial, you can remain in the US under that status. You should be able to stay until the original date you were authorized to stay.
  • If your application was denied after your current visa status expired, days of unlawful presence will be counted against you.
  • After denial, every day that you remain in the US counts toward “unlawful presence” in the U.S which can result in being barred from the U.S. for 3 or 10 years.
  • You may be required to depart the United States immediately after denial and your visa may become void.
  • If USCIS denies your application – and you are already attending school – you have to stop attending school which could result in receiving failing grades, which could result in being denied admission at a later date. And you are not eligible for a refund of tuition.

B-1/B-2 to F-1: If you are changing status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 student, you cannot begin studies until USCIS has approved your change of status.

F-2 to F-1: If you are changing status from F-2, a dependent, to F-1 student, you cannot begin FULL-TIME studies until USCIS has approved your change of status. Do not study full time until the application is approved. Once the application is approved, you CANNOT attend school part-time, you MUST enroll full-time.

You must file for a change of status before current status expires. If changing status because the F-1 primary visa holder is either falling out of status or has completed studies (or completed OPT), be aware that USCIS must receive your application well before the F-1 falls out of status, or before the end of the F-1’s grace period (the 60 days following the end of studies or the end of OPT).

Process for Applying

  • Apply to and receive acceptance to a Tseng College program.
  • Obtain an initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" from The Tseng College.
  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee and save the receipt.
  • File a Form I-539 “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Not all nonimmigrant classifications may change status. Make sure you are allowed to apply to change to F-1 status while in the U.S. (see charts below, read the instructions carefully, or consult with an attorney).

    On the I-539 application, Part 2, request new status to begin at the beginning of a session. If approved, your change of status will occur on the date your current nonimmigrant status ends, the date of approval, or the requested date, whichever occurs later.

  • Attach all supporting documents, including a check or money order for $370.
  • Send everything in one envelope to the address below. Use a mailing service that gives you a receipt and a way to track your package.
     
         USCIS
         ATTN: I-539
         2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400
         Lewisville, TX 75067
         (800) 375-5283

Which Visa Types are allowed to Change Status While Staying in the US?

The following are Eligible to Apply for a Change of Status (COS) to F-1 student while in the U.S.

These Visa Types MUST Change Status to F-1 in Order to Attend a Tseng College Program Full Time and are Eligible to Request a Change to an F-1 Student Visa While in the U.S.
*B-1/B-2, *F-2, A-3, H-2, H-3, J-1, J-2
  • You must be in status when applying for a change of status.
  • The application must be received by USCIS before your current visa or authorization expires.
  • A Change of Status can take 6 – 9 months, or longer, to be processed.
  • While waiting for a decision, you must maintain your current visa status.
  • CANNOT attend school while waiting for a Change of Status: *B-1/B-2 and *F-2
  • All others MUST attend school while waiting for a Change of Status.

* Exception: F-2s are allowed to attend part time.

Change of SEVIS Status – B-1/B-2 to F-1 Instructions
Change of SEVIS Status – F-2 to F-1 Instructions

 

The following are NOT Eligible to Apply for a Change of Status (COS) to F-1 student while in the U.S.

These Visa Types MUST Change Status to F-1 in Order to Attend a Tseng College Program Full Time But are NOT Eligible to Request a Change to an F-1 Student Visa While in the U.S.

If you Entered the U.S. on any of the Following Visa Types, you can NOT Apply to Change Status to F-1 While in the US. You must leave the US and apply for an F-1 Visa outside of the U.S.

C, D, K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, S, M-1, M-2, *J-1s, or WT and WB visitors under the Visa Waiver Program
* These J-1s are not allowed to change their status while in the US:
  1. Admitted to the U. S. to receive graduate medical training, unless receive a special waiver, and
  2. Exchange visitors who have the 212(e) two-year home residence requirement unless they obtain a waiver of 212(e).

Change from F-1 to F-2

If you AND YOUR SPOUSE are on F-1 visas, and you decide you want to become a dependent on your husband or wife’s F-1 status, you must apply to change your visa to an F-2 Visa. It is much easier, and usually quicker, to make the change while outside of the United States. However, if you must apply for a COS while in the US, read the important information and steps to take at “SEVIS – Dependents, F-2 Visas”.

If you have been on an F-1 visa attending high school and want to change to F-2 status, you want to be a dependent on your parent’s F-1 visa, follow the same steps as listed above.

Note: The charts and information above are to answer the most common questions we receive about eligibility to study in The Tseng College. It is to be used for general informational purposes only. There are many other categories and exceptions. For more complex non-immigrant and immigrant questions and issues, consult an Immigration Lawyer. It is highly recommended that you seek legal assistance anytime you are dealing with your legal standing in the United States.