Change of Status

With certain exceptions an alien already in the United States in nonimmigrant status can apply for a change to F-1 status. Those who cannot apply for a change of status in the United States may still be eligible for F-1 student status, but the only way they can get F-1 status is through obtaining an
F-1 visa and re-entering the United States.

The following nonimmigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 in the United States:

  • M-1 students
  • C, D, and K nonimmigrants
  • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training
  • J-1 nonimmigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement
  • Aliens admitted as visitors
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

School attendance pending adjudication of change to F-1 status

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 US Citizenship and Immigration Services:

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

If the application is denied, students may be required to leave the United States on short notice, interrupting their program of study at an inconvenient or academically disadvantageous time.

F-1 employment not possible until change of status is approved

In all change of status cases, no F-1 benefits are available, including any kind of employment, until the student receives notice from US Citizenship and Immigration Services that his or her request for change of status has been approved.

Departure from the U.S. while change of status is pending invalidates application

A nonimmigrant who travels abroad while an application for change of status is pending is considered to have abandoned the change of status application. Department of Homeland Security will deny the application if they become aware of the departure.

For information on how to apply for a change of status, please contact IPS at

Click here to download change of status application.