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Welcome to your journey of excellence

 

THE CHANGE OF STATUS PROCESS

The Change of Status process is used by individuals seeking to obtain F-1 student status within the borders of the United States. The process is not the same for all applicants, and the documentation requirements are different depending on your current visa type. There are also situations in which the Change of Status may not be the best option. A discussion with ISC staff will help you make the correct choice and engage in this process.

The following visa categories are currently not eligible to change status to F-1 while in the United States and must apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad:  C, D, K, S, TWOV, WT, WB, and J-1/J-2 subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

The Change of Status request must be submitted directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office responsible for the area where you currently live by mail or online using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). Please read the Form I-539 instructions for more details. An I-539 can also be completed by using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS).

CHECKLIST

You may either paper file Form I-539 (instructions below) or file electronically using the USCIS ELIS (Electronic Immigration System). The online instructions for ELIS can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis. You will be prompted as to what documents to upload and how to make payment.

FILING PAPER FORM I-539:

  • Completed Form I-539, or create an online account for the submission of the I-539
  • Personal check/money order/bank check made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $290.00. If you're applying online you must submit payment via credit card
  • Letter addressed to USCIS containing the following information:
    • Student's current address, phone number, and date
    • The request should state that you are admitted into a degree-seeking program as a full-time student and the reason for requesting the change to F-1 status.
  • Copy of acceptance letter from PCC
  • Copy of Form I-20, signed and dated by the ISC Designated School Official and the student
  • Copy of the passport page showing both the picture and expiration date
  • Copy of visa pages
  • Copy of the I-94 (front and back)
  • Copies of financial support documents, such as a bank statement or letter from the bank used to obtain I-20
  • SEVIS (I-901) Fee receipt https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ (current fee for I-20 is $200)

Additional documents required when changing your status to F-1 student based on the following visa categories:

Change from F-2 to F-1

Copy of spouse or parent’s I-20 that lists you as a dependent

Copies of spouse or parent’s F-1 immigration documents

Official transcripts for F-1 spouse or parent

Evidence of relationship to F-1 visa holder (Marriage/Birth Certificate)  

 Note: You must be accepted to PCC before you can file the change of status application

You may not begin courses until the change of status is approved

Change from B-1/B-2 to F-1

Note:   Entry on a Visitor’s visa when intending to study by be considered fraudulent entry

You should not apply for a change of status before you have been in the U.S. for at least 60 days

You must be accepted to PCC  before you can file the change of status application

You may not begin courses until the change of status is approved

Change from J-1 or J-2 to F-1

Official transcripts, if either J-1 or J-1 is a current student

Copy of Waiver document or “No Objection” statement from the U.S. Department of State if subject to 212(e). Note: J-1 students subject to the two-year home residency requirement are not eligible to change status to F-1 in the U.S. unless they have received a waiver from the U.S. Department of State)

If J-1 dependents are included in the Change of Status Application, please submit:

Passport page(s) showing both picture and expiration date

Visa page

SEVIS DS-2019

Dependent’s I-94 card (front and back)

Copies of financial support documents used to obtain I-20

Evidence of relationship to J-1 visa holder (Marriage/Birth Certificate)

Note: You must be accepted to PCC before you can file the change of status application

You must obtain your F-1 immigration status until the application is approved. Once approved, all coursework and employment must immediately cease.

Change from H-1 to F-1

Copies of H-1 immigration documents (approval notice, visa, passport, etc.)

Employment verification letter from current employer

Pay stubs for 3 months of earnings (recommended)

Official transcripts, if currently enrolled. Admission letter if not enrolled 

Note: You must be accepted to PCC before you can file the change of status application

You may begin courses as an H-1 while the change of status is pending

Change from H-4 to F-1

Copy of H-4 approval notice

Copies of H-1’s immigration documents (approval notice, visa, passport, etc.)

Employment verification letter from H-1 sponsor

Official transcripts, if currently enrolled. Admission letter if not enrolled 

Note: You must be accepted to PCC before you can file the change of status application

You may begin courses as an H-4 while the change of status is pending

Change from E-2, L-2, or to F-1

Immigration documents from the primary visa holder

Employment verification letter from the primary visa holder

Evidence of relationship to primary visa holder (Marriage/Birth Certificate)

Transcripts if currently studying under present visa

Note: You must be accepted to PCC before you can file the change of status application

Once you have all your documents for the application:

  • Photocopy your entire application.
  • Send your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

USCIS California Service Center

P.O. Box 10129

Laguna Niguel, CA 92607

While your change of status application is pending:

  • If you are changing from B-1/B-2 or F-2 status you may NOT enroll at PCC as a student.
  • Notify the ISC if you do not receive a receipt notice from USCIS within 4 weeks.
  • Once you receive your I-797 Receipt Notice from USCIS, please submit a copy to D-204. You can check the status of your case at www.uscis.gov  by entering your receipt number.
  • Do not travel outside of the U.S. If you have an emergent situation, speak to ISC staff prior to departing the U.S.

Once your change of status is approved:

  • Come to the ISC your approval notice, I-20, and passport.
  • If you travel outside of the U.S., in order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status, you will need to first apply for a valid F-1 visa outside the U.S.
  • A new I-20  will be issued to you for travel purposes

Important things to remember while your Change of Status Application is pending with USCIS:

  • USCIS will generally deny a COS application if it determines that the applicant had “preconceived intent” to study and misrepresented that intent at the consulate or the port of entry
    • USCIS often applies the Department of State’s “30/60 day rule” (9 FAM 40.63, N4.8)
    • While it is not a guarantee, if you apply for the change of after 60 days of entry into the U.S., USCIS may not look upon the application negatively. The best practice regarding non-immigrant visas (NIV), however, is to abide by the time restrictions that are allotted on the NIV assigned to the you.
  • It is recommend that you apply for the Change of Status at least 45 days before your I-94 expires.
  • Should USCIS or PCC, ISC have any questions, contact will be made via e-mail, please be sure to periodically check your e-mail.  Should you receive a letter from USCIS titled RFE (Request for Evidence) please bring the letter to the ISC immediately. You will only have 30 days to respond, if you do not respond, your application will be automatically denied. Please come to D-204 with the letter.
  • Students whose change of status application is pending with USCIS are strongly discouraged from traveling outside the United States, as this would be considered abandonment of the application. In this case, you must apply for the F-1 student visa at a U.S. Consulate/Embassy abroad before re-entering the U.S.
  • Since USCIS does not forward any mail, please notify us immediately if your address changes.
  • On average, USCIS will likely take one to six months to process your application; however the application process may exceed this time frame. You may check USCIS’s Web site, http://www.uscis.gov/ for current processing times.
  • If you currently are on B-1/B-2 or F-2 status, you may not begin your studies until your Change of Status has been approved by USCIS.