F-1 Change of Status


Individuals that would like to change their status to F-1 have the options to complete this by travel or by application in the United States. If you plan to change your status to F-1 you must do the following:
  1. Schedule an appointment to speak with an ISS advisor
  2. Fill out the Change of Nonimmigrant Status Intake Form and bring it to your ISS appointment 

    There are two ways individuals in the U.S. in nonimmigrant status can change their status to F-1. All individuals interested in doing a Change of Status to F-1 must schedule an appointment to meet with an International Student Services (ISS) advisor to determine your eligibility.
    1. Change of Status by Travel
      • Submit required documents to ISS and obtain an I-20.
      • Pay SEVIS fee at https://www.fmjfee.com/.
      • Travel to a U.S. consulate to apply for F-1 visa.
      • Re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status and check-in with ISS.
    2. Change of Status by Application (inside the U.S.)
      • Submit required documents to ISS and obtain an I-20.
      • Pay SEVIS fee at https://www.fmjfee.com/.
      • Apply for a Change of Status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) by mailing the Form I-539 to USCIS.
      • While application is pending, applicants should remain in the U.S.
      • Applicants should not start studies until the Change of Status has been approved unless current status allows enrollment. If unsure, consult ISS.
      • Once approved, applicant needs to check in with ISS.
      • If application is denied, the time between the end of student’s legal status (for example, H-1B) and the date of denial may be counted as unlawful presence by U.S. government authorities.
    • Once approved, student must comply with F-1 regulations, including full-time enrollment requirement upon entering the U.S. with F-1 visa, or from approval date listed on I-797 (approval notice). For information about F-1 status, refer to the Maintaining F-1 Status handout available at http://iss.tamu.edu/ISS/media/ISS-Files/ISS-PDF/Current%20Students/F-1-Immigration-Basics-9-2017.pdf
    • If you are currently in a dependent visa status (i.e. F-2 or H-4) then the term “primary visa holder” refers to the person who has applied to have you as their dependent (i.e. the person in F-1 or H-1B status).
    • If you are on a J-1 or a J-2 visa and are subject to the 2 Year Home Stay Requirement (INA 212(e) Home Residence Requirement), you cannot change your status in the U.S.; you must travel to your home country to change your visa status.
    • Both the applicant for F-1 status, as well as the primary visa holder (e.g. F-1, H-1B), must be in legal status in order to be eligible for a Change of Status to F-1.
    • Individuals who have applied for Lawful Permanent Residence should speak with an Immigration Attorney before considering a Change of Status to F-1.
    • If a Change of Status to F-1 is granted by USCIS, the applicant obtains F-1 status, but not an F-1 visa. The next time they leave the country, they must apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate in order to re-enter the U.S.
    • Applicants currently in a status that does not permit full-time study (i.e. F-2, B-1, B-2, etc.) must wait for the Change of Status to be approved by DHS before they can enroll in classes.
    Documents Required (Please note that additional documentation may be requested as needed.) Documents
    required by
    ISS
    Documents
    required by
    USCIS for
    Application
    Documents
    required at
    Visa
    Interview*
    Photocopies of all immigration documents previously received by the Applicant for F-1 status: Immigration documents include passport, visa, I-94, Form I-797A Approval Notices (if applicable), Employment Authorization Documents, and any Certificates of Eligibility (i.e. I-20 or DS-2019). YES YES YES
    If applicant for F-1 status is currently in dependent status, photocopies of all immigration documents previously received by the Principal Visa
    Holder: Immigration documents include passport, visa, I-94, Form I-797A Approval Notices (if applicable), Employment Authorization Documents, and any Certificates of Eligibility (i.e. I-20 or DS-2019).
    YES YES YES
    Proof of financial resources: Current evidence of all sources of financial support for the applicant. For detailed information about acceptable proof of financial resources, refer to http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/Estimated-Cost-of-Attendance#0-AcceptableFormsofFinancialDocumentation YES YES YES
    Employer Letter: If the applicant or their primary visa holder is currently in a status that is dependent upon employment in the U.S. (i.e. H-1B or F-1 OPT), ISS must also receive written proof of that employment from the employer. YES YES YES
    University Letter of Acceptance for Applicant: Required for any NEW student. If a current student, must submit Academic Department Letter (see below). YES YES YES
    Academic Department Letter for Principal Visa Holder: Required if applicant for F-1 status is currently enrolled as a student or if the applicant is a Dependent of an F-1 or J-1 student. The letter must be composed on department letterhead and addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” The letter must state the following: (a) when the student began the present program, (b) that the student is a full-time student in good academic standing, (c) the specific program requirements remaining, and (d) the student’s expected date of graduation
    (month/year). Titles and printed names should accompany all signatures.
    YES YES YES
    Personal Statement by Applicant: Addressed “To Whom It May Concern” stating (a) that the Applicant for F-1 status is in legal status, (b) asking that
    Applicant’s status be changed to F-1, (c) stating the reasons the change is desired or necessary, and (d) Signed and dated.
    NO YES YES
    Marriage / Birth Certificate: If the F-1 applicant is the spouse of the primary visa holder they must submit a copy of the Marriage Certificate (in English or
    translated into English). If the F-1 applicant is the child of the primary visa holder (or they will include any F-2 children dependents with their application) submit a copy of the birth certificate or other legal document(s) verifying the relationship to the parent (in English or translated into English).
    NO YES YES
    Transcripts: Provide transcripts from all U.S. schools attended by both the applicant for F-1 status as well as the Primary Visa Holder. Print unofficial transcripts for Texas A&M University at https://howdy.tamu.edu NO YES YES
    International Address: International addresses are required to issue an I-20. Please submit your international address with Change of Status application. YES YES YES

    *NOTE: Be sure to check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you will be applying for your F-1 visa to ensure that they do not require additional documents.