Change of Status Application Process

Due to the complexities of each case, NOVA strongly recommends that applicants seek assistance from an immigration lawyer to advise them on their specific circumstances before submitting an application to change their visa status while remaining in the U.S.

1. Request an appointment with an International Admissions Advisor. You may request to meet with an advisor to discuss the change of status process at NOVA. Email to request a meeting. Please be aware the Office of International Student Services staff cannot advise you on specific immigration legal matters and will not provide assistance in filing the change of status application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

2. NOVA F1 Change of Status Application Deadlines and Visa Validity Requirement

In order to process your application, NOVA requires that your current visa be in a valid status for at least one month beyond when you submit all required application pieces to NOVA. We will NOT process a COS application if your current visa will expire less than one month from the NOVA submission date or if you are in a pending visa status.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: May 1st
  • Spring: October 15th
  • Summer: (we do not accept COS applicants)

3. Review the current USCIS Change of Status policy and meet with an immigration attorney to discuss your case and eligibility.

4.  Review and Complete NOVA Change of Status Acknowledgement form found here and upload with online application.

5. If you meet the USCIS and NOVA criteria, apply to NOVA via our online application as an F1 applicant.

Upload required documents, including a copy of your current visa, last I-94 travel history, any English test score, financial form, bank statements, and any other immigration documents you may have related to your current status (ex. DS-2019 if J-1, I-797). You will also need to pay the international application fee.

6. Receive the I-20 form for F1 Change of Status from NOVA within 2 weeks via email.

7. Pay the SEVIS I-901 F1 Processing Fee online and send the receipt to NOVA ( This fee is different from the NOVA application and I-539 "Application to Change Non-Immigrant Status" fees and must be paid online to USCIS. NOVA will not be able to defer your application, and USCIS will not review your petition to change status until this fee has been paid.

8. Submit your I-539 application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to the expiration of your current non-immigrant status. (If you are changing from A or G status, you must submit form I-566.)

9. Keep copies of all the forms and documents for your records before mailing your change of status application. USCIS may ask for additional documents later to further verify the I-539 petitioner's eligibility if necessary.

10. Receive a receipt notice within 2-4 weeks after submitting your application. Visit the USCIS website to check the status of your application.

11. While your F1 status is pending with USCIS, you will NOT be permitted to enroll in classes at NOVA unless you remain on another eligible non-immigrant visa status that permits enrollment in higher education courses.

12. Once approved, email a copy of your I-797A approval notice to for the next steps in the enrollment process.

13. You must enroll in classes the next available semester after your F1 status is approved.

14. Approval from USCIS allows you to remain in the country as long as you have a valid I-20 and continue to comply with F-1 regulations. The next time you travel outside the U.S. you will be required to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy to apply for the F-1 visa before you return to the U.S.

15. For current COS processing times, visit: