Center for International Services & Programs

Change of Nonimmigrant Status to F1 or F2 Visa

Change of Nonimmigrant Status to F1 or F2 Visa

Overview

To qualify for F-2 status, you must be a spouse or an unmarried child under age 21 of an F-1 student.

To qualify for F-1 status, you must be pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the US. 

Eligibility

You may be able to change status if:

  • You are maintaining your current status.
  • You are eligible for the new status.

Your current status does not prohibit change of status in the U.S. See below for restrictions.

  • You generally cannot change status if:
  • Your period of authorized stay has already expired.
  • You have otherwise violated the conditions of your current status.
Restrictions
  • Individuals in J status who are subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement can change only to A or G status.
  • Persons admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (marked “W/T” or “W/B” on the I-94) cannot change nonimmigrant status.
  • Persons who hold C, D, or K status cannot change nonimmigrant status.
  • A vocational student in M status cannot change to F status.
Application Procedures
  1. Contact International Student Services (ISS) regarding your change of status.  You may submit your own change of status application, have the University submit the application, or an immigration attorney can handle your application.
  2. Compile the application documents specific to your change of status.
Documentation Needed
  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • A cover letter (one page) requesting the change of status from your current status to the new status. This letter should include a brief explanation as why you wish to change to status. You should also provide a checklist of the documentation you are including in your application.
  • USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, including $370.00 Application Fee and $85 Biometrics Fee. 
  • Evidence of financial support (i.e., bank statement, F-1's assistantship letter, etc.).
  • Copy of your entire new status Form I-20 (the F-1 must sign the “Student Attestation” section on page 1 of the form before making a copy). Do NOT send your original Form I-20. USCIS does not require the original and will not return it.
  • Copies of all of the immigration documents (e.g. Form DS-2019, Form I-20, Form I-797, paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status.
  • Copy of the waiver (if you were previously subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement while in J status), if applicable.
  • Copies of all of your spouse's/parent's immigration documents (e.g., Form I-20, Form I-797, paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that he/she is currently in lawful F-1 status. 
  • Proof of your relationship with your F-1 spouse/parent (e.g., copy of marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport information).

We recommend that you make a copy of this application for your own record.

 

Important Things to Remember

If you are currently in F-2 status:

Source: 8 CFR (Code of Federal Register) § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)

  • Individuals in F-2 status are eligible for part time study. Refer to F-2 Dependents for details. However, once your change of status to F-1 is approved, you are required to be enrolled full time. If your change of status has not been approved by the deadline for adding/dropping classes, your Form I-20 start date will be deferred until the start of the next semester and you must stay enrolled part time until the end of the current semester in order to maintain your F-2 status.
  •  

If you are currently in any other status (e.g., H, J, L, E, etc.):

  • If your current status allows full-time studies in the U.S., you may start classes before your change of status application is approved. However, you are not allowed employment under F-1 status until after your application is approved. For example, if you have an assistantship, you won’t be able to start it until after you receive your F-1 status.

Restrictions

  • Individuals in J status who are subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement can change only to A or G status.
  • Persons admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (marked “W/T” or “W/B” on the I-94) cannot change nonimmigrant status.
  • Persons who hold C, D, or K status cannot change nonimmigrant status.
  • A vocational student in M status cannot change to F status.
Traveling and Reentering the U.S.

The alternative method of changing to F-2 status is through travel and re-entry, which may be preferred over the in-country change of status in certain situations. In this case, you would depart the U.S. and then apply for a F-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, preferably the local consulate in your home country. If the F-2 visa application is approved and the F-2 visa is issued, then you can re-enter the U.S. using your F-2 Form I-20 form and F-2 visa. At the Port of Entry, your electronic Form I-94 will be updated to show your status as F-2 and the Admit Until Date as D/S, which confirms F-2 status.

Please note that Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement of a having an F-2 visa to re-enter the U.S. in F-2 status.

For further information refer to the U.S. Department of State web site and Travel Outside the U.S.and Reentry.

If you would like to discuss the risks and benefits or have questions about your options, please call the CSU International Center to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Preparing for your Biometric Services Appointment:

After you file your application, petition or request, we will schedule your biometric services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) if you need to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. Your appointment notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action) will include the date, time and location for your ASC appointment.

The biometrics you provide during your ASC appointment allow USCIS to confirm your identity and run required background and security checks.

What to Bring to Your ASC Appointment:

Your notice will provide specific instructions on what you should bring with you to your ASC appointment. You must also bring:

  • Your ASC appointment notice (Form I-797C), and
  • Valid photo identification (such as your Green Card, passport, or driver’s license)

USCICS recommends that you print or save a photocopy of your completed application, petition, or request to review in the future and for your records. USCIS also recommend that you review your copy of your completed application, petition or request before you come to your ASC appointment. USCIS cannot provide you with a copy at your appointment.

What to Expect During Your ASC Appointment:

When you appear for your appointment, USCIS will capture your fingerprints, photograph and/or signature with machines designed to collect these biometrics. When you provide your digital signature, you will also be attesting that the information in your application, petition, or request was complete, true, and correct at the time of filing.