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Change of Visa Status

If you are applying for a change of status to F-1 or F-2, ISS facilitates the process by creating your new I-20. You can change your status while in the United States by filing an I-539 and other supporting documents with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Wait times vary, but be prepared to wait for several months if you choose to change your immigration status within the U.S. You can also change your status by leaving the United States and applying for a new visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. If you wish to change your status quickly, we recommend that you plan to travel and apply for a new visa at a consulate outside the U.S.

Instructions for a Change of Status (I-539) Application

If you would like to change your status through travel, please see our New Visas and Visa Renewals section.

To check current processing times for I-539 Change of Status applications, see the USCIS Processing Times webpage. Note that you will likely submit your change of status application at the Vermont Service Center (although you should always follow the directions of USCIS regarding where to file).

While USC International Student Services provides general guidelines for change of status applications in this section, you should always use the USCIS website and their instructions for the I-539 as your primary resource. ISS does not make decisions regarding changes of status and does not have authority or training to officially advise students and families on change of status applications.

Steps to Applying for a Change of Status:

  1. Complete 2 forms to obtain your I-20: the Application for Immigration Document and the I-20 Request Form. Both are located in the ISS Forms Library.
    • To receive a new I-20, federal immigration regulations require that you financially certify. This means you must show that you or your family has the amount of "liquid funding" available for one academic year of study. For more information about the financial certification process, see this section of our website.
    • You are required to show financial certification to obtain a new I-20. You will have the option to upload your financial certification when completing the I-20 Request Form. If you have questions about the financial certification, please email iss@sc.edu.
  2. After you pick up your I-20 from the front desk of ISS, pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee of $200
  3.  Prepare your application. USC International Student Services has provided guidelines for preparing your documents below. Information about the Form I-539 can be found on the USCIS website, along with instructions and filing addresses.
    • ISS does not review change of status applications. If you wish to have your change of status application reviewed by an immigration professional, we are happy to refer you to an immigration attorney.
  4. After your application has been prepared, mail it to USCIS using the directions on the "Where to File" section of the USCIS I-539 webpage. ALWAYS keep a copy (electronic or paper) of your entire change of status application so that you can refer to it if necessary.

Recommended Documents for your Change of Status Application:*

I'm changing from F-2 to F-1.
You need the following documents:
I'm changing from H-4 to F-1.
You need the following documents:
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy of H-4 visa, if applicable
  • Copy of H-4 I-94 and I-797 approval notice
  • Copy  of H-1B visa, if applicable
  • Copy of I-797 (approval notice for H-1B status)
  • Copy of H-1B’s I-94
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • $370 check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form). Note that you will need to financially certify for out-of-state tuition unless you receive in writing certification from the Office of Legal Residency that confirms you will be allowed to pay in-state tuition.
I'm changing from J-2 to F-1.
You need the following documents:
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Acceptance Letter
  • Copy of J-2 DS-2019
  • Copy of your passport photo page, J-2 visa, I-94
  • Copy of J-1's DS-2019, passport photo page, J-1 visa, I-94
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • $370 check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form)
I'm changing from H-1B to F-1.
You need the following documents:
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of I-797 (approval notice for H1B status)
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy  of H-1B visa if you have one
  • Copy of I-94
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • $370 check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form). Note that you will need to financially certify for out-of-state tuition unless you receive in writing certification from the Office of Legal Residency that confirms you will be allowed to pay in-state tuition.
I'm changing from F-1 to F-2.
You need the following documents:
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of your passport photo page, F-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of Primary's F-1 I-20
  • Copy of Primary's passport photo page, F-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of proof of relationship (i.e. marriage certificate)
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • $370 check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-2 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form)
I'm changing from J-1 to J-2.
You need the following documents:
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of your J-1 DS-2019
  • Copy of your passport photo page, J-1 visa, and I-94
  • Copy of Primary's J-1 DS-2019
  • Copy of Primary's passport photo page, J-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of proof of relationship (i.e. marriage certificate)
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • $370 check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of your new J-2 DS-2019 (this DS-2019 will need to be created by your program sponsor.)

 *Always check the USCIS website as your first and primary resource regarding required documents. If you need assistance preparing your application, ISS can refer you to an immigration attorney or you can seek assistance from an immigration attorney of your choice.