Change of Status

With certain exceptions, a nonimmigrant already in the United States can apply for a change to F-1 student status. If you have been accepted to Rutgers or are currently attending, you may want to consider changing your status.
Reasons to do this may include:

     1. To possess a status that truly reflects what you are or plan to do in the United States.

     2. To gain F-1 student benefits, such as practical training experience.

An individual may change status by: exiting the US and applying for a new visa and making a new entry or applying to change status within the U.S.

When to Apply
If you are in one nonimmigrant classification and wish to change to another classification (i.e. F-2 to F-1), you must apply to US Citizenship & Immigration Services for a change of status prior to expiration of your previous status.

Eligibility
In order to change status, you must:

     1. Have been maintaining your current non-immigrant status.

     2. Have a valid passport.

Procedures and required documents

  • Make an appointment with the international student advisor to review the application procedure and check documents before submitting the application for a change of status.
  • Obtain evidence of your eligibility for the new status (SEVIS I-20/DS-2019).
  • Complete form I-539; See instructions here.
  • Check or money order for I-539 fee ($290 payable to USCIS).
  • Copy of financial support documents that were used to obtain the I-20 from Rutgers.
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Front and back copy of the I-94 card or printout of electronic I-94.
  • Copy of current immigration status documents, visa stamp and passport id pages.
  • Dependent family member documentation that will be changing status with you.
  • If on dependent visa, provide a copy of principal's documents (e.g. passport, visa, I-94 and I-20ID/DS-2019)

Provide a letter to USCIS explaining why you want to change your status to F-1. See template below.

Send all of the above, by overnight mail (Federal Express, UPS, Airborne, etc) to:

USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
, Suite 400

Lewisville, Texas 75067

NOTE: A decision regarding your request to change to a F-1 visa can take up to 3 months. You may stay in the United States while you are waiting to hear the answer from immigration.

Check Status of Application
USCIS maintains a website where you can check the status of your application. Please visit The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services web site to check the status of your application.

Sample Letter

USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

Subject: Change of status

Dear USCIS Officer:
I am requesting a change of status to F-1. I currently hold a (provide your visa type here).
I want to change my status because (provide an explanation here)
I am currently enrolled at Rutgers University for the (provide academic term here). Please find my acceptance letter and I-20 attached.

I have not worked without proper authorization. Please grant me this opportunity to study in the United States.
Sincerely,

(Your name, I-94 #)
(Your local address)