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Advising & Counseling

International Student FAQs: How to apply for a change to your F-1 Student Visa Status

Print out and complete the application forms:

  • Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539)

  • Attachment to Form I-539: If you are changing from a B status other than B-2 "Prospective Student", it is very important that you show in Question #1 that you did not intentionally apply for the wrong visa or deliberately enter the US in the wrong status. If you told the consul on your visa application that you intended to go to school or explained this to INS when you arrived, say so on the attachment.

Question #2: Describe how you have been fulfilling your purpose for being in the US. As a B-2 or B-1 visitor describe your tourist or business activities. As a dependent describe how you've been here with your family. Employment statuses: Describe your employment.

Question #3: Skip this question if you entered as a B-2 "Prospective Student," J-1 student, or as a dependent of a spouse or parent. If you entered the US for any other reason, clearly describe, step by step, what and who influenced you to become a full-time student instead.

Question #4: If you were employed back home, explain how your studies at RVCC will not affect returning to your job and how your career will benefit from your US education. Attach a letter from your foreign employer that establishes that an extended stay in the US will not affect your employment.

Question #5: If you were not employed back home, describe how your studies at RVCC will help prepare you for a career back home.

Question #6: Describe your intention to return home permanently following the completion of your studies. What is pulling you back there and why?

A and G statuses only: Attach your approved I-566.

Attach the following documents to your application:

  1. Application for a Form I-20 and all necessary evidence of support (if you have not already submitted these documents)
  2. Evidence of lawful status: Attach any evidence you have that you are maintaining lawful status in the US. Visitors should attach evidence of where they've visited or business activities; employment statuses (H,E,L) should provide a letter certifying their employment and a current pay stub; dependents should provide evidence that the principal is maintaining status.
  3. Copy of Form I-94 Departure Record (the white card stapled in your passport). If you hold a dependent status, attach a photocopy of your spouse or parent's Form I-94 as well.
  4. $300.00 fee in the form of a check or money order. Make it payable to USCIS
  5. F-1 Students changing to F-2 dependent status must provide a photocopy of their marriage certificate.

IMPORTANT information about application processing:

  • You should send your application to USCIS, certified mail return receipt requested.
  • USCIS will take about 3 months to review your application and reply to us. Sometimes, USCIS will request additional information from you. Contact us as soon as you hear back.
  • You are maintaining lawful status in the US while your application is being processed (even if the date on your
    Form I-94 passes).
  • B2 and F2 non-immigrants are not authorized to begin a course of study prior to the approval of
    the F-1 change of status.
  • Travel before receiving an answer from USCIS automatically cancels your change of status application. To reenter the US, you will need a new Form I-20 from us and must apply for the F-1 student visa at the American embassy or consulate closest to your home in your country. You may not use any other visa in your passport to reenter if your purpose for returning is to be a full-time student.

Please contact us if there is anything you do not understand, or that we can help you with.


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