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. Processing time can be anywhere between 2 months and 9 months.
- A change of status application can have an effect on your status and eligibility for any future immigration benefits. You should consult an 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.’
- 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|
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.
- Go to this site to see if you can file online.
To apply using the paper form, go to Form I-539 “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”.
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. Use a mailing service that gives you a receipt and a way to track your package.
Go to https://www.uscis.gov/i-539 to find the mailing address to use, to verify the filing fee, and see lots of information.
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).
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|
* Exception: F-2s are allowed to attend part time.
COS. B-1 or B-2 to F-1 Checklist
COS. F-2 to F-1 Checklist
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:
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.
Sources: Change of Status
|USCIS Website with Form I-539, Instructions for I-539, Filing Fee, Where to File, plus a link to Form G-1145.||https://www.uscis.gov/i-539|
|Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status||https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-539.pdf|
|USCIS Fact Sheet||https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/C2en.pdf|
|Study in the States COS Information||https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/change-of-status|
|Nonimmigrants in the United States–Applying for Visas in Canada or Mexico||https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/nonimmigrants-present-visiting-canada-mexico.html|
|USCIS Change of Status Information||https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/change-my-nonimmigrant-status-category/change-my-nonimmigrant-status|