Change of Status to F-1 or J-1 Student

A change of non-immigrant status to an F-1/J-1 student is possible in the US if you have been maintaining your current status and that status permits a change while in the US. Please understand that the application for a change of status to F-1/J-1 is a decision made by you and is not a University-sponsored application. OISSS will provide you with information on the steps and can make suggestions for a successful application. The ultimate decision as to whether the application is approved is solely at the discretion of the USCIS. As a change of status application is submitted to the federal government, please allow sufficient time for the approval process. It is not uncommon for the request to take up to six (6) months to be approved. If you are in a status that does not permit enrollment in classes or on-campus employment, you will not be able to begin your studies until the approval notice has been received. You may also obtain F-1/J-1 status through departure and re-entry into the US with a Form I-20/DS-2019 issued by OISSS.  For more information about changing to F-1 status, please see our Change of Status Q&A Handout.

To apply for a change of status to F-1/DS-2019, the following materials will need to be submitted to the USCIS:

  1. A check or money order for $370.00 made payable to the “US Department of Homeland Security” (fees are subject to change)
  2. A copy of the Form I-20/DS-2019 issued by TAMUK for the purpose of changing your status to F-1/J-1.  To request the I-20, you need to visit our OISSS form page to download a request form. 
  3. Once you have received the I-20/DS-2019, you will be able to pay the “SEVIS Fee” by visiting http://www.fmjfee.com.  You will need to include a copy of the receipt with your application.
  4. Form I-539 Application to Change/Extend Non-Immigrant Status 
  5. A photocopy of the front and back of your paper I-94 card or computer print-out of your electronic I-94 card
  6. A photocopy of the biographical (picture) page of your passport – if you have renewed your passport, include a copy of the renewal page.
  7. A photocopy of your most recently used US entry visa
  8. Financial documents (documents must be original and less than six months old). You may use one or a combination of the following:
    • personal bank statement bank statement of sponsor with letter of support
    • bank letter verifying account balance
    • proof of assistantship with tuition waiver
  9. Personal letter to the USCIS requesting a change of status. The letter should address the following:
    • Why you did not enter the US in F-1 Status.
    • Why you are requesting a change to F-1.
    • How studying in the US will benefit you, or be better than studying the same subject in your home country.
    • The hardship you will encounter if your request for a change of status is denied.

In addition to the information listed above, your current non-immigrant status may require the submission of additional materials. Please see the chart below to determine what else you must include with your application.

Current Status:

Additional Documents Needed

F-2

a. photocopy of spouse’s I-20
b. photocopy of front and back of spouse’s I-94 card
c. photocopy of biographical (photo) page in spouse’s passport
d. photocopy of spouse’s most recent US entry visa
e. a photocopy of your marriage certificate, notarized and translated into English for a spouse, birth certificate for a child

J-1

a. if subject to 212(e), copy of the “no objection” of waiver from USCIS
b. if you are a J-1 Scholar, a letter from your department verifying that you have been maintaining your status

J-2

a. photocopy of spouse’s DS-2019
b. photocopy of front and back of spouse’s I-94 card
c. photocopy of biographical (photo) page in spouse’s passport
d. photocopy of spouse’s most recent US entry visa
e. if spouse is subject to 212(e), copy of the “no objection” of waiver from USCIS
f. a photocopy of your marriage certificate, notarized and translated into English for a spouse, birth certificate for a child

H-1

a. photocopy of the front and back of your I-797 Approval Notice
b. a letter from your current employer verifying that you have been maintaining your H-1 status

H-4

a. photocopy of the front and back of your I-797 Approval Notice for your H-4 status
b. a letter from the H-1’s current employer verifying that he/she has been maintaining his/her H-1 status
c. photocopy of front and back of spouse’s I-94 card
d. photocopy of biographical (photo) page in spouse’s passport
e. photocopy of spouse’s most recent US entry visa
f. a photocopy of your marriage certificate, notarized and translated into English for a spouse, birth certificate for a child

B1/B2

Not eligible for a change of status to F-1/J-1 unless your visa and I-94 card specifically state that you entered the US as a “potential student”

Once you have prepared your application, please make a copy for your records. The original application should be sent using an express service or certified mail to:

USCIS
Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-539
75 Lower Weldon Street
St. Albans, VT 05479 

NOTE: While you are waiting for your change of status to F-1/J-1 to be approved, your current immigration status may have some restrictions in terms of study/on-campus employment. You may check to see if your visa type has any of these restrictions on the following handout provided by SEVP:

Nonimmigrants: Who Can Study?

This page was last updated on: June 12, 2017