Changing Your Visa Status to An F-1 Student Visa
If you’ve been staying in the United States with one kind of visa, you might be attracted by a course of study at a vocational school, community college, or university. It would make sense if you did. America has some of the best universities in the world, and a degree or certificate can really help someone when they move back to their country. But how can you attend one of these schools if you have a visa that will not allow you to enroll as a student? The answer isn’t very hard, but it involves knowledge of several steps and requirements. LASC’s representatives are here to help you navigate this process.
First of all, if you meet certain requirements, you can apply for a change of status of your current lawfully maintained nonimmigrant visa to an F-1 student visa.
You may apply to change your status if:
- You were lawfully admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant status;
- Your nonimmigrant status remains valid
- You have not violated the conditions of your status; and
- You have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for change of status.
Additionally, before your request for a change of status can be approved you also need to:
- Apply and receive acceptance from a US Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school;
- Obtain an Initial Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) from the SEVP-certified school (the schools Designated School Official (DSO) will give “change of status” as the Issue Reason on the Form I-20);
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee;
- File a Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status) with USSCIS.
Gaps in your status
Once you have F-1 status, you must start your program within 30 days. But if your current status is set to expire before that 30 day “grace period” and you don’t with to leave the United States before starting your program, then you can file a separate Form I-539. When processed, this form will help you “bridge the gap” between the current visa expiration date, your F-1 visa start date, and your program start date. Note that you must file this form if there is even a chance that there will be a gap in your status.
Leaving the US to become an F-1 Student
In these circumstances, consular processing refers to a US consulate or embassy in another country processing your nonimmigrant status at a port of entry. You might do this if there is chance that there will be gap in your nonimmigrant status before your program starting date or if there’s no way that you can process your change of status while in the United States. To accomplish this you’ll need to:
- Apply and receive acceptance from an SEVP-certified school.
- Receive a new Initial Form I-20 from the school’s DSO.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee;
- Apply at a US consulate or embassy for your F-1 student visa to travel to the United States in order to seek admission as a student;
Once an immigration officer grants your admittance to the United States in F-1 status, you’re all set to begin your program.
How LASC helps
LASC admissions agents have seen it all. No matter what your circumstances are, they will have practical recommendations for you to file for your change of status request if you’re trying to start a program at our school. We are SEVP-certified and have been in business for over 35 years, helping international students from all over the world learn English language ability so they can bring that skill into their further endeavors.
Learn more about the student visa process here! Whether you’re changing status, transferring programs, or planning to enter the United States for the first time, our process is simple and straightforward. Contact an admissions representative today to learn how you can get started in any of our English language programs.