Center for International Education


Holloway Hall
Salisbury University - Center for International Education

F-1 Visa Status

Other Information

Changing nonimmigrant status in the United States

With certain exceptions, an alien already in the United States in nonimmigrant status can apply for a change to F-1 status.  These exceptions are:

  • M-1 students

  • C, D, and K nonimmigrants

  • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training

  • J nonimmigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement

  • Aliens admitted as visitors under 8 C.F.R. 212.1(e)

  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

The USCIS determination of eligibility for change of status to F-1 consists of two levels of inquiry:
  1. Eligibility for F-1 status itself
  2. Eligibility for change of status in general


  • Check or money order for $290, made payable to the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and immigration Service.  If someone else writes the check, make sure your name is somewhere on the check.

  • Properly Filled I-539 form, Application to Change/Extend Immigration Status

  • Original I-20 (the entire form)

  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee (

  • Original form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record

  • Photocopy of current immigration status documents, visa stamp, and passport ID pages

  • Photocopy of financial support documents (same financial support information used to obtain the I-20 from the school)

  • If applicable, dependent family member(s) documentation (If dependent family members currently in the U.S. plan to change their status as well, their information should be included in Form I-539,a nd documentation showing the validity of their current immigration status, including their Forms I-94, should be included

  • Letter from the student.  Although optional,  a strong letter can help convince USCIS of the student's temporary intent as well as persuade USCIS that the student did not have a pre-conceived intention to study in the U.S.


An applicant for change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 may start attending school even before the application has been submitted or approved, except for the following, who must wait until their change of status application is approved by USCIS:

  • Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from B-1 or B-2 status; and

  • Nonimmigrants changing to F-1 from F-2 dependent status (except in the case of F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level)