Change of Status

The following information is designed to provide you with information on Change of Status to F-1 student. Please download the required immigration forms: I-539 Instructions and I-539 Form. 

If you wish to change your non-immigrant status to F-1 and are traveling outside the U.S., you must apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate and use your I-20 issued by the University to re-enter the U.S. Although costly, this is often the fastest way to become an F-1 student. If your current non-immigrant status is expired, then this option is the best choice.

If your current stay is not expired and you wish to change your non-immigrant status to F-1 while you stay in the United States, please follow these instructions. A change of status only changes your permission to stay in the U.S., i.e. your I-94 record, you do not receive an F-1 visa stamp in your passport. This means that if you need to travel outside of the U.S. in the future, generally you will be required to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate. There is no guarantee that an F-1 visa stamp will be issued even if USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) approved your change of status to F-1 student. For this reason, students often feel more comfortable leaving the U.S. and applying for the F-1 visa first before they make an investment in school.

Instructions for applying for a change of status

  1. Apply for admission to SHU. Once you are admitted, an I-20 form will be issued to you and you will be required to pay a $200 I-901 SEVIS Fee at Please make sure you enter your personal information exactly as it appears on your Form I-20.

  2. Not all categories of visas allow a student to begin study before a change of status to F-1 is granted and not all categories of visas are allowed to change status to F-1. Do not begin school without speaking with the Department of Immigration and Support Services at 203-396-6400.

  3. After the I-20 has been issued, schedule an appointment with the Department of Immigration and Support Services and bring the following documents with you to be mailed to USCIS.
    • Completed form I-539 (application to extend/change non-immigrant status).
    • Fee of $370 for Form I-539, make a check or money order payable to “U. S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not send cash!
    • I-94 arrival record which can be found at
    • All three original pages of the I-20 issued by SHU. Print your name, sign and date page 1 at the bottom.
    • Photocopy of passport information page, expiration date, and U.S. visa page. 
    • Evidence of financial support. For example: bank statement, scholarship award letter, documentation from sponsor, etc. This may be a copy or original documents. When including bank statements from an account you have in the U.S., include your last 4 statements, not a letter from the bank. Include sufficient documentation from any sponsor, such as tax returns, statement of sponsorship, wages, bank statements, etc. Bank letters are not generally accepted by USCIS.
    • Letter explaining why you want to change your status (see sample below).
    • Proof of registration and payment of tuition and fees, if you are currently attending school; or proof of paying application fee if you have not yet begun school.
    • Proof of your U.S. address (example: lease, utility bill, phone bill, bank statements) and your home country address (example: evidence of ownership of property of yourself or your family, driver’s license).

For students changing status from F-2 to F-1 add the following: 
Copy of marriage certificate, copy of spouse's I-20, visa, I-94, passport information/expiration date, letter from spouse’s school verifying current F-1 status. 

Do not start school until a change of status to F-1 is granted!

For students changing status from B-1 or B-2 to F-1 add the following:
Copy of evidence showing original purpose of U.S. visit. For example, travel itinerary, round trip airplane ticket, business itinerary, etc. 

Do not start school until a change of status to F-1 is granted!

For students changing from another status (H-1, H-4, R-1, etc.) add the following:

  • copy of evidence showing your current legal status including:
  • copy of passport, visa, I-94
  • copy of approval notice if applicable
  • copy of paystubs and income tax returns, if applicable
  • copy of marriage certificate, if applicable.

For students subject to Special Registration:
Evidence of having completed Special Registration.

Remember: (1) If USCIS approves your request to change your non-immigrant status, this does not change the visa stamp in your passport. If you were to leave the U.S. you would have to go to a U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for an F-1 Visa. (2) You are required by law to notify USCIS within 10 days of any legal changes to your name or any change of address. If such changes occur while your change of status application is pending with USCIS, please notify both the school and USCIS within 10 days of such change.

Sample Letter


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

RE: Change of status from (insert your current status) to F-1


To Whom It May Concern:

In the first paragraph explain when you entered the U.S., in what status, and for what purpose.

Next explain when you learned about the opportunity to study in the U.S. and, specifically, at SHU. Explain your motivation to go to SHU.  Specify what your source of funding is and how long you will be in school. If you entered the U.S. in B-2 prospective student status, explain why you did not receive an F-1 student visa at the U.S. consulate/embassy.

Include a statement of your intentions to return home after you complete your study at SHU.

(Sign your name)