Change of status F-1 International Student

Welcome, future HCC Eagle!

This application is for applicants who are in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (for example B1/B2, H1) and wish to change their status to F-1. You must remain in the U.S until your application is adjudicated and, once approved, you will be subject to travel restrictions that do not apply for the regular F-1 students. You must be admitted into a full-time program of study at Houston Community College (HCC) and obtain the SEVIS Form I-20 from the Office of International Services & Programs (ISP).

An individual is only eligible to change status to F-1 if all of the following items apply:

  1. The applicant's current non-immigrant status is valid at the time USCIS receives the change of status to F-1 application.
  2. The applicant’s most recent entry to the U.S. was not under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or ESTA  for business (WB status) or tourism (WT status).


Note: If an applicant is currently in J-1/J-2 status and subject to 212e or the two-year home residency requirement, the applicant is not eligible to apply for a change of status in the U.S. unless they have obtained a waiver of this requirement.

Recommended/Not required: The applicant (a) has been in their current visa status for at least three months before filing a change of status to F-1 with USCIS, or (b) can provide USCIS proof of no preconceived intent to study at the time of last entry to U.S.

If you are an international student planning to attend HCC on a status different than F-1 (DACA, refugee, L visa, H visa, etc.), please follow the instructions for Non-Internatonal students (First-Time, Transfer, Returning, etc.) on


Admissions Application


Prepare your Documents


While Waiting for Approval...


After you have Received Approval


Step 1

Admissions Application

Go to the online application.

  1. Start a new application or continue with a saved application form.
  2. If you selected "Start a new application," on the next screen select "F-1 International" from the left-hand menu.
  3. Fill out and complete the application.


Upon completing the application, you will receive your Conditional Approval Letter and a welcome email that contains your HCC Student ID number and P-number (if assigned).


Take the first step. Apply today!

Click here to view a more in-depth tutorial on completing the application.

If you already have an HCC student ID, skip this step and register for a Change of Status Workshop below.

Visit the HCC Student System and log in with your HCC Student ID number (W000000000) and the Password that you previously created.


Sign in to your HCC account

Click here for additional assistance with gaining access to your account

Change of status applications are processed only for one semester at a time based on specific eligibility criteria.

The Office of International Services & Programs (ISP) must receive your application on or before:

  • Fall Semester: Last workshop in July  
  • Spring Semester: November 11 (Workshop sessions start in September)
  • Summer Semester: April 1 (Workshop sessions start in February)


Register & Attend the Change of Status (COS) Virtual Workshop

Change of Status (COS) applicants must register and attend one of the COS workshop sessions.  The session covers all aspects of the COS process.  Instructions about the documents will be provided during the virtual workshop. The initial Change of Status SEVIS Form I-20 will be reviewed and processed within 10 business days once all required documents are submitted.


What You Need Before Scheduling Your Session

  1. Your HCC ID
  2. The DATE listed on your I-94 as “admit until date”  OR your expected visa/status termination date (for work visas this will be the last day of their employment + 60-day grace period; for some dependents – the date of reaching the age limit.) 
    • You can print out your I-94 at the following link: If you have a previous status change, you will use the I-94 on your latest COS approval notice.
  3. Visa type- on your I-94/ latest COS approval notice/ passport stamp
  4. If you have applied for/ or are in the process of applying for an extension or update of your current status, please indicate so in order to be able to continue with the registration. A receipt of the application for an extension should be added to the I-94 section of the Uploadable Checklist that will be assigned to participant accounts after they attend the virtual workshop. Your nonimmigrant status should be unexpired at the time of filing the initial COS to F-1 application, and you should be otherwise eligible for COS.


(If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the current sessions, you may consider applying for an extension of your current status or leaving the country and applying as a NEW student.)


How to Schedule & Register and Attend the workshop via WebEx

  1. Click on Change of Status Workshop Request. Go to the "Click here to display sessions" button, click and choose a date.
  2. You will receive an email with a WebEx Registration link. Register for the virtual workshop following the email instructions.
  3. Once you register, you will receive an email from Webex confirming your registration.
  4. Fifteen (15) minutes prior to the event (not earlier), you will be able to join the workshop online to check the status of your audio/video settings. Our workshops are set up for Central Standard Time (CST) Time Zone.


Schedule & Register to attend a Change of Status (COS) Virtual Workshop Combined Shape Created with Sketch.


Step 2

Prepare your Change of Status Documents

Required Documents for Change of Status Form I-20

Below is the list of the documents that are required for issuing of your Change of Status Form I-20

All documents must be saved as PDF files with short names (less than 30 characters). The file name should not contain any invalid characters such as (*:"<>?). Bad quality or upside-down documents will be rejected. Please combine different document types in 1 PDF file. For example, if you have statements from different banks, save them as one file. To scan and convert a file to PDF format, you can also use free PDF scanner apps (Genius Scan - PDF Scanner, Fast Scanner: Free PDF Scan for Android, Tiny Scanner- PDF scanner, etc.) Upon uploading, the System will add automatically change the name of the file to a 3 or 4-digit code and your HCC ID number.

  1. Complete and sign the  SEVIS Form I-20 Application‌  Note: Electronic signature is accepted.
  2. Complete and sign Legal Waiver and Release Form
  3. Copy of passport biometric page (at least 6 months from the filing date, or include a receipt for extension or renewal)* 
  4. Copy of latest visa (or Change of Status approval notice I-797)*
  5. I-94 Departure Record: print out your I-94 at > click on Get most recent I-94 or provide the I-94 on the Change of Status approval notice I-797 . If your non-immigrant status has expired, please include receipt of the application for an extension/ or update of your status*/**
  6. Financial Documentation UCSIS Expects COS applicants to provide evidence for financial support covering the full amount shown on the Form I-20: $22,980 for the primary holder and $4,400 for each dependent.
  7. $75 non-refundable application fee. 

    How to pay the fee:
    You can pay the fee online using a credit card or funds transfer from your local bank (via Flywire).  Refer to the International Payment Tutorial (Flywire) for instructions. Please enable pop-ups on your internet browser for online payment. After payment, the receipt will be sent to your email address. Save the receipt as a PDF.

    Note: The payment term and entrance term may vary when paying the fee online. This is not a problem as the payment can be tracked by date. 

* Provide this document for all dependents (spouse/ children under 21) who are in the U.S. and are changing status with you; provide also marriage and birth certificates. This is also required for the primary visa holder if your current status is based on her/his visa. All supporting documents should be in English or translated into English. When children "age out" at the age of 21, they are no longer in lawful status under their parent's visa. 

**You should be in lawful non-immigrant status at the time of filing the initial COS to F-1/F-2 application. Examples of documents showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status can include Form I-94, DS-2019 for J1/2, Form I-20 for F-2 status, Form I-797: receipt of the application for an extension/ or update of status.



Upload Documents to your Student Checklist

 A Checklist will be added to your HCC account two (2) business days after you attend the virtual workshop.

  1. In the Student Homepage, click on Checklists
  2. Click on the F-1 Student Checklist to upload the required documents. If you do not see an F-1 Student Checklist two business days after you attended the workshop, please send an email to with your HCC student ID, "COS," and the semester you're applying for, written in the subject line. Only students who attended the COS Virtual Workshop will be assigned COS Checklists.


Use the "+" sign on the Checklist item to add additional supporting documents. Don't forget to add documents marked with "*" on Step 4 for all your dependents (spouse/ children under 21) who are in the U.S. and are changing status with you; provide also marriage and birth certificates. This is also required for the primary visa holder if your current status is based on her/his visa. All supporting documents should be in English or translated into English. When children "age out" at the age of 21, they are no longer in lawful status under their parent's visa.  Examples of documents showing that applicants are currently in lawful non-immigrant status can include Form I-94, DS-2019 for J1/2, Form I-20 for F-2 status, Form I-797: receipt of the application for an extension/ or update of status.

Follow the instructions on the   Tutorial - F1 Students Checklist_Prepare and Upload Documents

Monitor your Student Checklist for additional documents that may be required.



Check the Status of your Form I-20

Login to your HCC Student Sign-In and view your To-Do list (click on Checklist>F-1 Student Checklist list).  If the only item in your To-Do list is “I-20 In Process”, your application is under review by your assigned Designated School Official (DSO).  If you see any other items in your To-Do list, you must upload the required documents so that your application can be reviewed. 

After uploading all the required documents, it usually takes approximately 10 business days for the review and processing of the I-20. The duration of this process may vary depending on when the application is submitted and the number of applicants in the queue at that time.

If you haven't heard from us within 10 business days (weekends and holidays are not included), please email  to check the status of your application. Make sure to include your HCC ID in the email subject line.


Receive your Change of Status Form I-20

Once the office receives all required documents, it takes about 10 business days for the processing of the SEVIS Form I-20 for applicants who meet the requirements. Applications are processed in the order they are received.

We are sending the I-20 form electronically to the primary email listed on your HCC account. 

When you receive the I-20, we recommend you proofread the following information on the form:

On page 1:

  • Names
  • Date of Birth
  • Form Issue Reason: CHANGE OF STATUS
  • Start of Classes: (shows the date for the initial semester of attendance)
  • DSO signature


Print out the I-20 for yourself (F-1) and for your dependents (F-2), if any. Sign the first page of the I-20 in ink as students are not allowed electronic signatures. 

 * In case of any discrepancies, please contact your DSO for corrections before filing the COS application I-539.


Pay the $350 SEVIS I-901 fee

I-901 fee applies only to the F-1 applicant. The dependent applicants (F-2) do not pay this fee. Failure to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee will result in the denial of your change of status to F-1 application. If your  I-20 record in SEVIS database does not show I-901 fee payment, it will not be deferred to the next available semester and your application will be denied.

Go to and follow the instructions for I-901 fee payment. Save a copy of the receipt for your application package to USCIS.

A prospective F-1 student with a country of citizenship or country of birth of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or Gambia must pay by money order, Western Union Quick Pay, or certified check drawn from a U.S. bank. 

All other prospective F-1 students also have the option to make a credit card payment on


File your COS Application Package to USCIS Online or By Mail

File Online

Filing online helps you to: Get your application into our processing queue faster than mail delivery; Ensure you are using the correct version of the form; and Communicate with USCIS directly, without sending or receiving paper mail.

You may apply online to extend or change your nonimmigrant status if you are applying as a single applicant, without co-applicants/dependents; and you will not require legal or accredited representation at any point in your request.

Create or use an existent account: >My account>File a Form>I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

or you can go directly to and start from there:

 Prepare and Upload:

  • Copy of passport (at least 6 months from the filing date, or include a receipt for extension or renewal)
  • Copy of Visa
  • Copy of Form I-94> Click on Get most recent I-94; or your Notice of Action I-797A if you have changed status in the U.S.
  • Financial Documents
  • Personal letter: Click to view a Sample Personal Letter for Change of Status
  • Other supporting documents….
  • Form I-20 for Change of Status signed by DSO and student (all pages)
  • Receipt of paid SEVIS I-901 fee for $350
  • Pay the filing fee of $420 at the end of the application For the latest filing fees instructions, go to


After the fee is paid, your form will be submitted and you will have access to your receipt and case number.

Use your USCIS online account to:

  • Receive your biometrics appointment notice;
  • Receive status updates about your case;
  • Respond to any correspondence in which we ask you to submit evidence; and
  • Update your contact information if it changes.


File by Mail

You may apply by mail if you are applying: As a single applicant with co-applicants/dependents; and/or you require legal or accredited representation at any point in your request.

To download the paper I-539 application/primary applicant, go to:

To download the I-539A dependent/co-applicant application, go to

USCIS: Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Tutorial: Click to view a Sample Form I-539 for Change of Status to F-1

Tutorial: Click to view a Sample Personal Letter for Change of Status

Tutorial: Click on the COS Mailing List for instructions on documents that need to be included in your application packet and mailing address(es).

The filing fee for the paper application is $470

Assemble all documents according to the COS Mailing Checklist. Use paper clips; do not use staples to attach documents together.
USCIS requires each applicant and co-applicant (dependent) to attend an appointment that will be scheduled at a USCIS Applicant Support Center (ACS) where biometrics such as fingerprints will be collected. Form I-539A is to be used for multiple individuals such as family members.

For the latest filing fees instructions, go to



Submit a Copy of the USCIS Receipt to Avoid Cancellation of your Application

After you have filed your application with USCIS, you will receive a Form I-797 Notice of Action (receipt) in the mail and electronically (if you applied online). If you are using the services af an immigration lawyer, ask him/her to provide the receipt to you to ensure that you I-20 won't be cancelled.

Our office  provides automatic deferments to the next available semester only for qualifying applicants who meet the following requirements:  

  1. SEVIS fee I-901 has been paid
  2. Evidence that the I-539 application was submitted. Provide a copy of your receipt or an electronic notice containing your case number


You must email a copy of this receipt to . Always include your HCC ID in the subject line of the email.

 The receipt number is printed in the upper left corner of the USCIS Form I-797 “Notice of Action” receipt.


Attend USCIS Biometric Services Appointment

USCIS will determine the need for biometric appointments. Applicants (F-1) and co-applicants (F-2) will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. Biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539. If you fail to attend your biometric services appointment, USCIS may deny your application.




Monitor your Case Status for Request for Evidence (RFE), Approval or Denial Notices

When the applicant’s status changes to “Approved”, “Denied”, or in case of Request for Evidence (RFE) the student should inform our office immediately at

Check weekly the status of your application on the USCIS Case Status web page. Use the receipt (case) number printed in the upper left corner of the USCIS Form I-797 “Notice of Action” receipt. This receipt number is a unique 13-character identifier that consists of three letters followed by 10 numbers.

Creating a personalized account with USCIS at allows you to receive your most recent case updates including up to the last five actions on your case, simplifies case management, and access to your electronically filed applications.

Request of Evidence (RFE)

  • If the USCIS needs further clarification from students regarding their application, a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice will be sent to them.  It is important to follow the instructions on the RFE carefully and by the noted deadline.  If an RFE is not filed correctly in a timely manner, it may result in the denial of their Change of Status application.


It is very important to monitor your mail about messages from USCIS. Students with electronically filed applications will have immediate access to their RFEs while students who have applied by mail will have to wait to receive the paper RFE in their mailbox. In both cases, students should contact their assigned DSO and submit a copy of the RFE.

In case of delay of the RFE by mail, the applicant should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.

Status: Approved

Students should inform our office immediately at and submit all documents for Check-in following the instructions on . Sometimes there are delays in the mailing of the official copy of the I-797A "Notice of Action". However, the approval start date can vary, and in order to prevent  F-1 status termination, the student should start immediately working on securing timely enrollment at HCC. In the meantime, we recommend students to call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Delayed or lost Form I-797A is not an excuse for not reporting and enrolling at HCC for the relevant semester. 

Status: Denied

You should be prepared to leave the country in order to prevent accruing unlawful presence. 

A Change of Status denial cannot be appealed. However, if you disagree with this decision, or if you have additional evidence that shows this decision is incorrect, you may submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider by completing a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. A motion to reopen
must state the new facts to be considered and must be supported by affidavits or other new documentary evidence. A motion to reconsider must show that the decision was legally incorrect according to statute, regulation, and/or precedent decision.
The motion must be filed within 33 days from the date of the denial notice. You may need to consult with an immigration lawyer. Please visit  or call 713-237-9429  or 1-800-289-4577.

Examples of Request for Evidence (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

(Usually, the maximum period allowed for responding is 30 days from the date on the letter)

  • Documentary Evidence of Current Finances
  • Banks Outside of the United States


You are required to show that you have the financial means to pay for the course of study as indicated on your SEVIS Form I-20. In addition, you must substantiate that you will have the financial ability to pay for your course of study and living expenses for the entire period of study as indicated on your Form I-20.

Submit the last three (3) months of original bank statements (translated in English) that include all deposits and withdrawals to include explanations as evidence that you are able to provide immediate funds for your first year of study, as well as an ability to provide this support throughout the duration of your study.

If you submit documentation that includes foreign currency, calculate the value in U.S. Dollars and include evidence of the source for the currency conversion exchange rate.


You submitted foreign financial records for your personal bank account (XXX Bank). Indicate how you access the funds while in the United States. If the funds will be transferred to an account in the United States, including three (3) months of bank statements for those accounts that show all deposits and withdrawals for the account.

Note: Any financial records you submit need to include the full name of the account holder and the address of the bank.

  • Documentary Evidence of Return Ticket
  • Documentary Evidence of Residence Abroad


Submit evidence to establish that you have made arrangements to depart the United States upon completion of your temporary stay in the United States. Such evidence includes an airline ticket or other transportation ticket or evidence that you have the funds necessary to secure your departure from the United States.

Regulations require that an F-1 student establish that he/she has a residence in a foreign country, which he or she has no intention of abandoning, is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study. Submit documentation to establish that you have a foreign residence where you intend to reside upon expiration of your F-1 status. Such documentation includes current telephone bills, current utility bills, current mortgage statements, current rental agreements, current rent receipts, etc.

  • Impact on Foreign Employment
  • Initial Contact


Submit a statement explaining any effect the extended stay may have on your foreign employment.


Submit a letter from your international student advisor setting forth the date the school was first contacted on your behalf and the date you filed your application for admission to the school.

  • Applicants with Previous F-1 and F-2 Student Records
  • Statement to Customs and Border Protection


Explain in detail the previous school filings. Provide a detailed statement explaining why you did not apply for a change of status to F-1 and F-2 while you were outside of the United States. Moreover, why you did not go to the U.S. Embassy to apply for F-1 and F-2 visas but entered the U.S. as tourists.

Provide a statement that answers the following questions: When you were admitted to the United States, did you disclose to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer that you were seeking to study? If not, provide an explanation of why you did not disclose that possibility.

  • Reason for Most Recent Entry into the United States


Submit a detailed statement describing your activities in the United States prior to applying for a change of status to F-1. Include any traveling, visiting friends or relatives, and/or any other tourist activitiesSubmit documentation such as travel or accommodation receipts to add weight to the merits of your statement.

Note: Statements alone may be insufficient to establish eligibility and should be accompanied by any available supporting documentary evidence.

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Application


A review of the official records reveals that an immigrant petition has been filed for you. However, as per the instruction of Form I-539, the record does not show that you provided a description of the circumstances described and explained on a separate piece of paper.  As per these instructions, provide a statement that describes the circumstances and your intent in detail on filing Form I-130. Submit a copy of the I-797, Notice of Action for the I-130 Petition for Alien Resident listing you as the beneficiary.

  • Purpose of Course of Study
  • Evidence of Intent to Depart


Submit a detailed statement to explain how your proposed course of study will benefit your current career path and goals. Also, include a detailed statement to explain the effect of your proposed change of status on your foreign employment and residency.

Submit a statement in which you describe your intention concerning departure from the United States upon completion of your proposed study.

  • Translation and Currency
  • Affidavit of Support


If you submit documents that include foreign currency denominations, please calculate their value in U.S. dollars. Please include evidence of the source for the currency conversion exchange rates. If you submit a document in any language other than English, you must include a full English translation. The translator must certify that the translation is complete and accurate and that he or she is competent to translate from a foreign language to English. Official extracts are acceptable, but only if they contain all the information necessary to make a decision on the case. Only extracts prepared by an authorized official (the “keeper of the record”) are acceptable. A summary of a document prepared by a translator is unacceptable.

If you have a sponsor, your sponsor should submit a notarized statement or affidavit of support specifying the intended type and amount of financial contributions he or she will make on your behalf to cover your various costs (such as tuition and school expenses, room and board, living expenses, medical expenses, health insurance, etc.). Your sponsor should submit documentary evidence demonstrating that he or she is able to provide immediate funds to cover expenses associated with your first year of study. In addition, your sponsor should provide evidence of his or her ability to fund your tuition and living expenses for the duration of the course of study. Such supportive evidence may include but is not limited to, current employment records, tax records, business records, property records, etc.

  • Ability to Read and Understand English Language


You are asking to study English as a Second Language (ESL) as indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20, and you indicate on Part 5 of the I-539 Application (Applicants Statement): “I can read and understand each and every question of the form, as well as my answer to each question.” If you can read and understand English, please explain why you are seeking ESL training.

  • Example RFE for J-1 Student:


Government regulations require you to maintain a valid nonimmigrant status up to the filing date of your instant application.

Submit the following to establish that you have maintained your J nonimmigrant status up to the date of filing:

  • Submit copies of your three most recent check stubs from your J-1 program employer.
  • Submit a letter from your Responsible Officer and/or Program Sponsor detailing that you have been maintaining your J nonimmigrant status.
  • Submit school records from all the colleges/post-secondary schools you have attended.
  • Submit all Forms DS-2019 previously issued to you.
  • If you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212€ of the Immigration and Nationality Act, please submit evidence that you have been granted a waiver of that requirement.


Example RFE for B-2 Student:

Provide the following evidence to establish that you were in valid nonimmigrant status at the time your Form I-539 was filed:

Submit a detailed, chronological list of all activities in which you’ve engaged since being admitted to the United States. For example, if you were engaged in tourist activities, include all the towns and cities and tourist attractions, such as parks and museums that you have visited, to the best of your knowledge. You need not include any places you transited through or otherwise stopped in on your way to such destinations, provided you did not stay overnight, or stopover in any such place for a significant period of time. If you were visiting a friend or relative, provide the name and address of the person and the dates visited. Provide documentary evidence of such activities, which may include, but is not limited to receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, hotel invoices, rent receipts, and affidavits from those you have visited.  



Step 3

While Waiting for your Approval...

You have to be ready for enrollment at HCC. Failure to take all tests and be cleared for enrollment at the time of COS approval may result in the termination of your newly approved F-1 status! 

  1. Submit proof of meningitis vaccine if you are younger than 22 at a campus or email to
  2. Review Testing and English proficiency on the following website: and take the appropriate test. For more information, see the HCC Testing Services website at
  3. Take Academic Preparedness Test TSI  This test is for students who have met the English proficiency requirements.
  4. Evaluate your foreign credentials (you may be eligible for TSI exemption or to transfer some of your courses)
  5. Meet with your Academic Advisor on campus or virtually. In order to request a virtual appointment with an academic advisor please visit the HCC Virtual Lobby:

The academic advisor will review your test scores and academic credentials (if any) and will set up your HCC academic profile to enable you to register for classes. This will include meeting both the English proficiency requirement and College Readiness Requirement (TSI Assessment). Students who have not met the  English proficiency requirement will be placed in the appropriate level of Intensive English classes based on their Accuplacer scores. 

B1/B2 are not allowed to attend classes prior to approval to F-1 status.

Failure to take the required placement tests and be cleared for enrollment at the time of COS approval may result in the termination of your newly approved F-1 status!


Step 4

After you have Received the Approval Notice I-797A

Check-in as a Change of status approved student

Prepare to upload copies of the following documents in PDF:

  1. Form I-20*
  2. COS Approval Notice I-797A*
  3. Receipt of payment of the $50.00 orientation fee – you can pay this with a credit card online through the PeopleSoft / Student Account sign-in. For more information, see International Payment Tutorial (Flywire)Allow pop-ups on your browser.

    *Provide this document for all dependents (spouse/ children) on an F-2 visa


Once you submit all required documents, our office will remove the International Advisement Required Hold from your account. Please review and follow the Next Steps for New F-1 Students

To complete the F-1 onboarding process, connect with the Enrollment Services staff located on the HCC campuses or via HCC Virtual Lobby.

Failure to take the placement tests and be cleared for enrollment at the time of COS approval may result in the termination of your newly approved F-1 status!

Check-in as a Change of status approved student Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Additional Information

A change in status (COS) is not automatic

The decision will be made solely by the USCIS officer who will adjudicate the change of status application.  USCIS business practices and regulations may change without notice. 

The student is responsible for information provided in the COS application and decisions made by USCIS do not reflect the actions of the HCC International Services and Programs.


Travel outside the U.S. while Change of Status application is pending

Do not travel outside of the U.S. while your COS case is pending. If you leave the country, USCIS will consider your application abandoned. In case you must travel because of an emergency/unexpected circumstance while your COS case is still pending with USCIS, you should plan to withdraw your application from USCIS and notify our office via email as well.


Travel outside the U.S. after Change of Status application is approved and Reentering the U.S

If you obtain your F-1 status through a change of status process with USCIS, remember that you will only receive an F-1 status, not an F-1 visa. 

This means that the first time you travel outside the U.S. while in F-1 status, you will have to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate/embassy in order to be able to return to the U.S.

You need to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate abroad and submit all necessary documents while you are outside of the U.S. 


Obtaining an F-1 visa in a 3rd country

It can be much more difficult to obtain a visa stamp in a 3rd country, such as Canada or Mexico, if you are not a national of that country. 

If you intend to apply for a visa in a country other than your home country, you will need to check with the consulate/embassy to determine if this is an option.

If denied a visa, you must return to your home country to apply for a visa there. 


Family Members of Nonimmigrants

If your nonimmigrant status is based on the fact that you are a family member or dependent (unmarried children under 21 years of age) of an individual who has already been granted nonimmigrant status, then you must file your application while that individual maintains a valid nonimmigrant status. Family members and dependents are limited to the same period of authorized stay as the principal immigrant.

You may include your spouse and your unmarried children under 21 years of age as co-applicants in your application change of status, but only if you are all now in the U.S. and in the same status or they are all in derivative status.  The primary applicant applies for a Change of status to F-1, while the co-applicants will be included in the primary applicant's I-20 and will each receive an F-2 I-20 that should be submitted as supporting evidence with the I-539A application.

If you apply as part of a family, you may choose to:


How can I find authorized immigration service providers online?

The EOIR provides a listing of attorneys in your state who provide immigration services either for free or for little cost. They also provide a list of accredited representatives and recognized organizations. The American Bar Association also provides information on finding legal services in your state.

When choosing an attorney you should:

  • Make sure that the attorney is eligible to practice in – and is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of – any U.S. state, possession, territory or commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.
  • Make sure that the attorney is not under any court order restricting his or her practice of law.
  • Ask to see the attorney’s current licensing document, and verify through the state agency responsible for regulating attorneys that he or she is eligible to practice.
  • Check the List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners. This is where the Executive Office for Immigration Review lists people who have been expelled, disbarred or suspended from practicing law before USCIS. Attorneys who are on the list and who have a “No” in the last column on the right are not eligible to give you legal advice. Ask to see a copy of the reinstatement order from the EOIR.

WARNING: “Notarios,” notary publics, immigration consultants and businesses cannot give you immigration legal advice unless they are authorized service providers. In many other countries, the word “notario” means that the individual is a powerful attorney, but that is not true in the U.S. If you need help with immigration issues, be very careful before paying money to anyone who is neither an attorney nor a EOIR-accredited representative of a EOIR-recognized organization.


Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Prepare for your first day of class!

Contact Us

Office of International Student Services

ISP Zoom: