Changing to F-1 Status

There are two ways to obtain a change to F-1 status.

  1. Apply inside the United States for a change of status.
  2. Leave the United States and apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy.

Before you apply for a change to F-1 status, make an appointment with an OIA advisor by calling 317-274-7000. Your advisor will go over your eligibility and will thoroughly describe the application process to help you make the best decision for your situation.

Apply for F-1 Status from Inside the United States

Those students in J-1 status and subject to the 212e home residency requirement are not eligible for this option. Additionally, there are issues with timing for the application. Speak with an OIA immigration advisor to go over all the risks of this application before you file. It is possible that this is not a good option for your situation.

Approval or denial of your Change of Status application can take up to nine months. It is critical that you start the application process well in advance of the start of your new program. Timing is especially critical if you will have funding from your department that will require you to work on campus in your first semester. Current processing times can be found by going to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

You will need to provide OIA with:

  • Financial documentation less than 6 months old
  • A copy of your passport identity page
  • A copy of your most recent I-94 entry record
  • Copies of immigration documents for any dependent on your record
  • If you are the dependent of anyone else's record, copies of their immigration documents

Your application to the USCIS will contain the following documents:

  • Form I-539
  • A check or money order for $370 (form filing fee) and $85 (biometric fee, this is for each individual on the change of status application, so if you are filing with dependents you need to multiply the fee by the total number of applicants) made out to USCIS
  • Copies of:
    • Your new I-20, issued by your OIA advisor
    • Your admission letter from the Office of International Affairs
    • Financial documents showing funding for at least one academic year (Learn more about estimated expenses)
    • Your most recent I-94 entry record
    • A copy of your passport identity page
    • Documentation that you have been maintaining your current visa status (your OIA advisor will help you determine what this will be)
    • Your SEVIS I-901 fee receipt

Please be aware that change of status process results in F-1 status, but an F-1 visa stamp is not issued. Visa stamps may only be issued overseas at a U.S. consulate or embassy. F-1 status allows you to stay legally in the U.S., but you will need to obtain an F-1 visa stamp if you leave the U.S. and intend to re-enter.

Getting F-1 Status from Outside the United States

An OIA advisor will be able to help you determine if you are eligible to change your status via travel. With this option, you will need to submit the following to us:

  • Updated financial documentation, less than 12 months old
  • A copy of your passport identity page (and those of any dependent you will have)

Once you have submitted the appropriate documentation, an OIA advisor will create an I-20 for you and your dependents. After you have obtained your I-20, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

Learn more about applying for a visa in the F-1 student section. You can also refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website on information for non-immigrants present in the United States, and visiting Canada or Mexico.

Once you have re-entered the United States using your new F-1 visa stamp and I-20, you will need to submit copies of your I-94 entry record and visa stamp to your OIA advisor.