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Change of Status Application Process

This information is for those individuals who are currently in the U.S. on another visa status and are planning to change their status to F-1 inside the United States. 

Please be aware that if your change of status application is approved, you will receive the benefits of the F-1 status, but you will not receive an F-1 visa in your passport

An approval from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services allows you to remain in the United States as long as you have a valid I-20 and continue to comply with F-1 regulations. The next time you travel outside the United States you will be required to go to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad to apply for an F-1 visa before you return to the U.S.

If you are in the United States, are currently in another immigration status and wish to request a change to F-1 status, there are two steps you will need to follow. Because this process is complex, we strongly recommend that you seek professional assistance from an international student advisor or an immigration lawyer in preparing your application to change status.

Change of Status Process

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1. Apply to NOVA for an I-20.

Follow the general application process for either the Intensive English Program or the Associate Degree Program.

Along with the other documents required, please include a copy of your current visa, current I-94 and any immigration documentation you have for your current status (i.e. DS-2019 if in J-1 status, I-797 if previous change of status).

2. Apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change your status.

  • Original I-20 with your name, signature and date on the bottom of page 1 (Remember to sign your I-20.)
  • Form I-539: Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • $290 check written to “Department of Homeland Security” (students changing from A or G status do not need to pay this fee)
  • Receipt showing payment of the $200 SEVIS fee
  • Photocopy of passport ID page -- copy page(s) showing photo and expiration date of passport
  • Photocopy of both sides of the I-94 card
  • Additional evidence of current immigration status -- for example, photocopy of DS-2019 for holders of J-1 status, photocopy of I-797 showing previous change of status, etc.
  • Financial Statement Form and supporting financial documents -- the documents you used to apply for the I-20
  • A statement explaining in detail:
    • when and why you entered the U.S.
    • when and why you decided to study, including your academic plans at NOVA
    • how you will use your studies when you return to your home country
  • If you are changing from A or G status you must submit form I-566.  

Send all of the forms and documents by Certified Mail or Express Mail to:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX  75266

  • Keep photocopies of all the forms and documents for your records. 
  • After your change of status is approved, please bring a copy of your approval notice to the Office of International Student Services or your campus office as soon as possible.
    Please Note: The current processing times for change of status applications is 2-3 months from the time your application is submitted to USCIS. In some cases, it may take longer. 
  • You will receive a receipt notice approximately 2-4 weeks after submitting your application. You may visit the USCIS website to check the progress of your application.