Change of Status (COS)

A person's nonimmigrant 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. 

Changing a nonimmigrant 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 Advisor 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 submitting the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, 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:

    • Your current status must not expire more than 30 days before the Form I-20 or DS-2019 program start date
    • Submit to the ISSS office your acceptance letter for admissions
    • Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee
    • File online the Form I-539

    If your change of status is approved, you will be notified by USCIS indicating your new status. The entire process may take up to four-five months or more for processing. You may NOT study until you have received approval from USCIS for the Change of Status or consulted with one of the international advisors. If your application is still pending with USCIS after the program start date, you must obtain a deferred program start date on your Form I-20.

    After you receive approval, please visit the International Student and Scholar Services office with your new immigration document for your file.