Change of Status (COS)

A person's non-immigrant status must match the purpose of his/her stay in the U.S.  A change of status may be necessary when the objectives of the visit have changed. For example, a person may come to the U.S. to study on an F-1 student visa and then later decide to change to a J-1 Research Scholar to do postdoctoral work after completing his/her PhD degree.

Changing non-immigrant status can be a complex process. The timing of the change is critical and must be done with care to avoid falling out of status during the transition. Before you undertake a change of status, we recommend you make an appointment to speak to an International Student Coordinator about the process.

In general, there are two ways to change nonimmigrant status:

  1. Travel outside the U.S. and re-enter in the new status, or
  2. Stay in the U.S. and request a change of status by application
    to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Traveling outside the United States is the same process that you encountered when you were applying to come to the United States from your home country to study:

Remaining in the United States and submit an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your nonimmigrant status by following these steps:

    Gather the following information and complete all required forms:

    • Fill out and return to the ISSS office the request for I-20 form
    • Complete the Form I-539.
    • Make check or money order payable to the "Department of Homeland Security."
    • Write a brief statement explaining why you did not originally enter the United States under  the new visa status. This is one or two sentences describing why you did not originally come to the US on the visa in which you are now applying.
    • 2 Copies of your passport (page with photo and expiration date), visa page and I-94 Card
    • 2 Copies of your waiver, if applicable
    • 2 Copies of DS-2019 and I-94 card of principal J-1 (if changing from J-l to J-2)
    • 2 Copies of I-20 and I-94 card of principal F-1 (if changing from F-1 to F-2)
    • 2 Copies of Proof of family relationship to F-1 or J-1 principal (i.e. marriage license)
    • Evidence of financial support (i.e. original bank statement)

      Show proof of the I-901 SEVIS fee to the ISSS office. Please bring along a Credit card to pay this once your immigration document for Change of Status has been Created by our office. Keep in mind that if you are changing to an F2 visa holder then you will not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

      After you have gathered all the materials listed above set up an appointment to meet with the International Student Advisor (852-6604). Bring all of the materials with you AND your original passport and immigration documents.

      The International Student Advisor will review the materials and ask you to sign the immigration document (I-20 or DS2019) if applicable to your change of status. All materials will be sent by the Center using regular mail to the Service Center in Vermont for adjudication. If your application is complete, the immigration office will mail you a receipt notice within 30 days.

      If your change of status is approved, immigration will mail you the new immigration document and a new I-94 Card indicating your new status. The entire process may take up to four-five months for processing. You may NOT study until you have received an approval from immigration for the Change of Status.

      After you receive approval, please stop by the International Center with your new immigration document and I-94 card so that we may copy them for your file. The International Center will keep a complete copy of your application on file.