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.

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:

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

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.

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