Change of Status
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.
- 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 application 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.
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.
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.