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International Students Resource Center

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Change of Status (to F-1)

Change of Status to F-1 Student

·      Scenario 1: If you wish to change your non-immigrant status to F-1 and you are traveling outside the U.S., you must apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate and use your I-20 issued by Woodbury University to re-enter the U.S.  Although costly, this is often the fastest way to become an F-1 student.  If your current non-immigrant status is expired, then this option is the best choice.

·    Scenario 2: If your current non-immigrant status is not expired and you wish to change your non-immigrant status to F-1 during your stay in the United States, please follow these instructions. 

o   A change of status only changes your permission to stay in the U.S., i.e. your I-94 card. 

o   You will NOT receive an F-1 visa stamp in your passport with an approved change of status.  This means that if you need to travel outside of the U.S. in the future, generally you will be required to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/ consulate. 

o   There is no guarantee that an F-1 visa stamp will be issued even if the U.S. immigration service approved your change of status to F-1 student.  For this reason, students often feel more comfortable leaving the U.S. and applying for the F-1 visa first before they make an investment in school.

Instructions for applying for a change of status while in the USA

Step 1. Apply for admission to WU.  Once you are admitted and have met all admission requirements, the Admissions Office will notify you to of your acceptance.

Step 2. Once you are accepted, show proof that you meet the university’s English language requirement and financial requirements, you need to pay a $500 non-refundable commitment deposit to receive an I-20 from Woodbury University. 

Step 3. After receiving your Woodbury I-20, you must pay the SEVIS fee of $200 at www.fmjfee.com and print out your payment receipt.

Step 4. Apply for change of status to F-1 electronically by visiting www.uscis.gov/uscis-elisIf you choose not to file electronically and file by mail, please visit http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-539.pdf  and http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-539instr.pdf .

Documents required/recommended for filing for change of status:

  • Fee of $370.00 (made out to the Department of Homeland Security)
  • $200 SEVIS fee receipt
  • Photocopy of both sides of the I-94 card if you have a paper I-94. Electronic I-94 is available here.
  • All three original pages of the I-20 issued by WU.   Print your name, sign and date page 1 at the bottom.
  • Photocopy of passport information page, expiration date (at least 6 months validity period).
  • Photocopy of you current U.S. visa page.
  • An ORIGINAL bank letter (savings or checking account only) on official letterhead signed and dated by a bank official within the last six months. For non-personal funds, an ORIGINAL affidavit of support is required. If you don’t have a notarized affidavit of support (because notary is not readily available in your country), you may use the attached form.
  • Letter explaining why you want to change your status (see attached sample letter)
  • Proof of deposit payment, registration and payment of tuition and fees if you are allowed to attend school and are currently attending (certain status holders such as B1/B2 and F-2 are not allowed to attend school until change of status is approved).
  • Proof of your U.S. address (example: lease, utility bill, phone bill, bank statements)
  • Proof of your home country address (example: evidence of ownership of property of yourself or your family, driver’s license)

·         Please note not all categories of visas allow a student to begin study before a change of status to F-1 is granted and not all categories of visas are allowed to change status to F-1. For example, if you are currently in B1 or B2 visa status, you will NOT be allowed to begin your studies at Woodbury University until AFTER immigration approves your Change of Status Application to F-1.

For students changing status from F-2 to F-1 add the following:

  • Copy of marriage certificate (translated into English!!)
  • Copy of spouse's I-20, visa, I-94, passport information/expiration date
  • Letter from spouse’s school verifying current F-1 status

                                Note:  You cannot start school until a change of status to F-1 is granted!

For students changing status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 add the following:

  • Copy of evidence showing original purpose of U.S. visit.  For example, travel itinerary, round trip airplane ticket, business itinerary, etc.

                                Note:  You cannot start school until a change of status to F-1 is granted!

For students changing from another status (H-1, H-4, R-1, etc.) add the following:

  • Copy of passport, visa, I-94
  • Copy of approval notice (front and back)
  • Past three paystubs and income tax returns
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable. 
  • Note:  If you are in a dependent status (such as F2, H4, J2, etc), you must provide documentation to verify both your and your spouse’s legal status

Remember: 

  • If the Immigration Service approves your request to change your non-immigrant status, this does not change the visa stamp in your passport 
  • If you were to leave the U.S. you would have to go to an U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for an F-1 Visa
  • You are required by law to notify the USCIS and the school within 10 days of any legal changes to your name or any change of address
  • Feel free to consult an immigration attorney regarding your application. This document is created to inform students about the change of status process but does not constitute any legal advice

 

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