Who can request a Change of Status with USCIS?

Non-immigrants in the United States who have maintained lawful status may request a change to an F-1 status if their primary purpose for being in the United States changes. Non-immigrants who are interested in changing their status should read the information below and then make an appointment to meet with an International Student Advisor (ISA) at the UF International Center.

Generally, non-immigrants who have filed a timely application for change of status to a different nonimmigrant status or have filed an application for extension of stay can remain in the United States while their application is being adjudicated by USCIS. This assumes that the person was in valid nonimmigrant status when he or she filed the application, and that the current nonimmigrant status of the applicant will continue to be valid up until the date that the new status is requested to begin.

A person who has been approved for a change of visa status while in the U.S., and intends to travel outside the U.S., must obtain a new entry visa from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy before returning to the United States.

Restrictions on Changing to F-1 Status

Certain non-immigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 while in the United States. Such non-immigrants may still be eligible for F-1 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 non-immigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 in the United States:

  • M-1 students
  • C, D, and K non-immigrants
  • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training*
  • J non-immigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement*
  • Aliens admitted as visitors under 8 C.F.R. § 212.1(e), holding B-1/B-2 visas**
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program.

**A visitor that has a "prospective student" notation on his or her B-2 visa is able to request a change to F-1 status. A denial of the change would result in a notice from USCIS requesting the applicant to voluntarily depart the United States.

Cautions

A person in a visa status that is not authorized for work/full-time study (i.e., F-2), may not be employed or enrolled full-time for classes until the person receives notification from USCIS that the application for F-1 status has been officially approved. This process can be lengthy, so it is essential to apply for the change of status as soon as possible.

An applicant currently in F-2 status may not work in the U.S. and may not attend school on a full-time basis. But part time study is allowed.  The applicant may begin studying on a part-time basis while the application seeking F-1 status is pending. If the application seeking F-1 status is approved, the applicant would then need to continue studies on a full-time basis.