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Change of Status (to F-1 or J-1)

Change to F-1 Student Status

Restrictions on Changing to F-1 Status

Nonimmigrants in the following statuses are not eligible to change to F-1 student status while in the U.S.; they may however seek F-1 status by exiting the U.S., obtaining an F-1 visa, and re-entering the U.S. in F-1 student status.

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

Documents Required for the F-1 Change of Status Application
The nonimmigrant must explain satisfactorily why s/he did not originally enter the U.S. in the status now being requested. A change of circumstances or intention should be documented or explained to make the application acceptable.

Eligibility for School Attendance While Change to F-1 Status Application is Pending

A change of status applicant seeking F-1 student status may start attending school prior to application approval, except for nonimmigrants in the following statuses; they must wait until their change of status application is approved by USCIS:

  • Nonimmigrants in B-1 or B-2 status; and
  • Nonimmigrants in F-2 dependent status (exception: F-2 minors studying at the primary or secondary level)

Eligibility for Employment While Change to F-1 Status Application is Pending

No F-1 benefits are available, including any kind of employment (including assistantships), until the applicant receives an approval notice from USCIS.

Departing the U.S. while a Change of Status Application is Pending Invalidates the Application

A nonimmigrant who exits the U.S. while a change of status application 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.

Change to F-2 Dependent Status

Documents Required for the F-2 Change of Status Application
The nonimmigrant must explain satisfactorily why s/he did not originally enter the U.S. in the status now being requested and provide proof of the F-1 primary's valid student status. A change of circumstances or intention should be documented or explained to make the application acceptable.

F-2 Status

An F-2 dependent's status is linked to the F-1 student's legal status and thus will have the same program end date. F-2 dependents may travel outside the U.S. while the F-1 remains in the U.S. just as the F-2 dependents may remain in the U.S. while the F-1 primary travels outside the U.S. as long as F-1 primary’s absence is less than 5 months and everyone is maintaining valid status. F-2 dependent children may enroll in school grades K-12; however F-2 dependents cannot enroll in full-time course of study or a degree program beyond elementary and secondary education (K-12). F-2 dependents cannot obtain employment authorization in the United States.

Once a dependent obtains F-2 status, the Office of International Education will only terminate that status if credible evidence of one of the following is submitted:

  • Legal divorce (if the dependent is the student's spouse)
  • 21st birthday (if the dependent is the student's child)
  • Death
  • The dependent him- or herself requests termination of his or her record and provides evidence of departure from the U.S. (e.g., home country entry stamp).

Change to J-1 Student Status

Restrictions on Changing to J-1 Status

Nonimmigrants in the following statuses are not eligible to change to J-1 student status while in the U.S.; they may however seek J-1 status by exiting the U.S., obtaining an J-1 visa, and re-entering the U.S. in J-1 status.

  • J-2 nonimmigrants subject to the 212(e) 2-year foreign residence requirement
  • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • C, D, and K nonimmigrants

Documents Required for the J-1 Change of Status Application
The nonimmigrant must explain satisfactorily why s/he did not originally enter the U.S. in the status now being requested. A change of circumstances or intention should be documented or explained to make the application acceptable. USCIS may deny a request by an F-1 student to change to J-1 Student status if the adjudicating officer believes that the reason for the change is principally to enable the dependents to apply for permission to accept employment.

Eligibility for J-1 Benefits While Change to J-1 Status Application is Pending

No J-1 benefits are available, including any kind of employment including enrolling in classes or obtaining employment, until the applicant receives an approval notice from USCIS.

Departing the U.S. while a Change of Status Application is Pending Invalidates the Application

A nonimmigrant who exits the U.S. while a change of status application 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.

Additional Information:


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