Sometimes individuals under other visa statuses need to request a change of visa status to F-1 because either their current status does not allow them to study or their current status will end before they complete their degree of studies. Please check the chart below for the most common visa types and eligibility for study in the US.
Types of Visas Eligible to Study in the U.S.
|Visa||Eligible to study||Enrollment requirement*||Work Eligibility||Additional requirements to change visa status|
|B1/B-2||No||Part- time||No work permitted|
|F-2||Yes||Part- time||No work permitted|
|A1/A2||Yes||Either full-time or part-time||A-2 students may be able to work they complete an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to apply for work and will need to talk to the place of employment of whoever holds the A-1 visa the A-2 visa is attached to confirm that they have permission to work||Diplomats seeking change of status to F-1 must submit 2 originals of Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request – Change to/from A, G or NATO Status directly to the Diplomatic Liaison Division or the U.S. Mission to the UN within 30 days after termination.|
|J-1 (Au Pair)||Yes||Part-time||J-1 Au Pairs can work as live-in childcare providers in exchange for room, board, and pay, but cannot seek work beyond that.|
|J-1||Yes||Full – time||J-1 students can work for their sponsor on-campus. Most places will allow part-time work on-campus.||Individuals subject to the 212(e) Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement must first obtain a waiver to submit a change of status application to USCIS.|
|H-4||Yes||Either full-time or part-time||You must have Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work in the U.S.|
|G-5||Yes||Either full-time or part-time||G-5 students can only work under for the G-4 visa holder they came with.|
*Full Time enrollment for undergraduates is 12 credits and 9 credits for graduate students.*
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS AND RESTRICTION
- ISSS strongly recommends that students who are on B1/B2, F-2 and Au Pair visas to change their status by traveling abroad since it is hard to predict an approval from USCIS when the change of status is done inside the US. If a student under any of these visas is enrolled part-time and gets an approval in the middle of the semester, it is not possible to add classes in order to comply immediately with the F-1 full time enrollment.
- USCIS is taking a very long time ( More than 12 months) to review and adjudicate change of status applications. If at all possible, all students are encouraged to consider traveling abroad to change their visa status.
- If you choose to travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending, the application will be considered abandoned.
- Students who change their status in the US, obtain an F-1 status, but that is not a visa. Therefore, they must keep in mind that if they plan to travel abroad at a later time, they will still need to apply for visa stamp in order to be able to return to the US.
Process to Request a Change of Status to F-1
There are two ways for individuals currently in the United States (U.S.) with a valid nonimmigrant status to apply for a change of status to an F-1 visa in order to pursue a full-time degree at Marymount University. To be eligible you must be admitted to and/or enrolled at Marymount University.
Please note that your current nonimmigrant status must be valid at the moment you submit your change of status application and until the date the F-1 status is requested to begin.
OPTION A: TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
Travel is generally the fastest way to change status. We recommend researching current wait times and visa information on the Department of State website and consult a qualified immigration attorney with specific questions about your situation.
OPTION B: SUBMIT APPLICATION FOR CHANGE OF STATUS IN THE U.S. TO USCIS.
ISSS recommends working with an experienced immigration attorney prior to and during the process of filing Form I-539 with USCIS. Please note that if you change your status in the United States, you will need to apply and obtain an F-1 visa the next time you travel outside of the U.S. to be able to return to the U.S. in F-1 status.
You may be eligible to submit an application to USCIS to change status while remaining in the United States if the following eligibility requirements are met:
- You are maintaining your current nonimmigrant status
- Your current period of authorized stay has not expired and will not expire more than 30 days prior to your Marymount program start date
- You have no previous violations of status
- Your current status does not prohibit a change of status application through USCIS*
INITIATING A CHANGE OF STATUS REQUEST
It is important that you evaluate your options before requesting the I-20 since the documents are different for each particular process.
1. Initiate the change of visa status contact the ISSS at email@example.com in order to receive an invitation to log in to the ISSS portal.
2. The ISSS advisor will send you a link and instructions to access this ISSS portal. Log in to the ISSS portal using your MU credentials and follow the steps on the number tabs.
- Click on tab 2 and select the change of status button, select how you will be changing your status, in the US or by traveling abroad. Answer the rest of the questions.
- Complete the personal information question on tab 3
- Go to tab 4 to provide financial information.
- Along the process, be ready to upload scanned copies of the following documents: Copy of passport ID page, current visa, I-94, copy of admission letter, financial documents showing sufficient funds to cover tuition and fees, living expenses, books, supplies and health expenses for one academic year. See information about cost of attendance here.
- Current students at MU should complete the last portion to request an academic advisor certification that will verify the numbers of credits left and estimated graduation time
3. Once ALL the documents have been submitted, an ISSS advisor will issue an I-20 form within three to five business days.
NEXT STEPS AFTER YOU OBTAIN AN I-20
- Pay the SEVIS Fee (Form I-901) of $350 and print a receipt at https://www.fmjfee.com.
- Schedule an appointment and apply for an F-1 at a U.S. Consulate abroad if you’re traveling abroad or put the immigration application packet together with your lawyer to submit a change of status in the US.
- Keep ISSS updated during the process. If students are applying for change of status in the US, they must do monthly follow ups with an ISSS advisor
- Once you have obtained your visa or received your change of status approval, complete immigration check-in at the ISSS portal.
Disclaimer: International Student advisors are able to provide you with general guidance based on SEVP regulations. However, any advice provided to you by our office, as well as the information on the ISSS web pages, handouts, and request forms, should not be construed as legal advice. Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, USCIS may change its interpretation of these immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits, at any time. We will do our best to provide you with the most current guidance. Each case is fact-specific and we strongly recommend that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation ].
Change of Visa Status to F-1 handout. Courtesy of Georgetown Office of Global Services handouts.
 Text from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs