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Change of Status Application Process

Please Note: NOVA cannot provide legal advice in these cases but we strongly recommend that you seek assistance from an immigration lawyer in preparing your application for change of status.

If you are currently in the United States on another immigration status and wish to change to F-1 status there are two main steps you will need to follow.

1. Apply to NOVA for an I-20

Apply to one of the three admissions options; ESL Pathway, Intensive English or the 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 (ex. 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
  • Pay I-539 Fee (noted on UCIS website) by check written to "Department of Homeland Security" (if changing from A or G status do not need to pay this fee)
  • Receipt showing payment of the 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 -- 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:

P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

  • Keep photocopies of all the forms and documents for your records. 
  • 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.
  • After your change of status is approved, bring a copy of your approval notice to the Office of International Students as soon as possible as you will need to enroll in classes by the next available semester.
  • Current processing times are taking anywhere between 3 -12 months from the time your application is submitted to USCIS.
  • You must be prepared to enroll in classes whenever your status is approved.  
  • Approval from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (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.