Change of Status
F-1 student status is appropriate if you intend to pursue full-time studies in the United States. If you are currently in the United States as a tourist, temporary worker, diplomat, exchange visitor or any other kind of non-immigrant classification and need to change to F-1 student status, follow the procedures indicated below.
To qualify for F-1 student status, you must be admitted to a full-time program of study at the Baruch College and obtain a SEVIS I-20 by submitting the following documents to ISSC:
- Completed Confidential Declaration and Certification of Finance Form
- Financial documentation showing that you have sufficient funds to cover the tuition, living expenses, and fees for a least one year
Note, if you are in the United States unlawfully or have overstayed your current status, you are ineligible to apply for a change of status from within the Unites States.
Processes and considerations
Once you obtain a SEVIS I-20 from Baruch, you must change to F-1 student status either by travel or by application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Change by travel
You may change your status by departing the United States and re-entering in F-1 status. To do so, you must have a valid F-1 entry visa, if you do not have an entry visa already. If you were previously in lawful F-1 status at another school in the United States and have an unexpired F-1 entry visa, you may continue to use the visa unless it was canceled, even if the visa was issued for your previous school. If you do not have an F-1 entry visa, you must apply for one at the U.S. consulate in your home country or country of residence. Once you have obtained an F-1 entry visa, you would then enter the United States with your visa and the following:
- Your Form SEVIS I-20 from Baruch
- Supporting documents such as copies of your admission letter and your financial documentation
- Receipt of the SEVIS fee payment
Upon your arrival, you would request F-1 status. The USCIS inspector at the port of entry will inspect your visa, your SEVIS I-20, and your supporting documents, and admit you in F-1 status by issuing you an I-94 card marked “F-1 D/S” (F-1 is your status, D/S stands for duration of status).
Change by application to the USCIS
You may also try to change your status by submitting a change of status application to USCIS. This requires that you assemble the following materials:
- A completed Form I-539 (Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and Biometrics.
- Photocopy of your current electronic Form I-94 and photocopies of the Form I-94 of any dependents who are changing status with you
- Your original, signed SEVIS I-20 form from Baruch
- Documentation that demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States
- Photocopy of your passport’s identification page; do not send your passport to the USCIS
- A bank check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for the required $370.00 fee. You and each co-applicant must also pay an $85 biometric services fee. A personal check is acceptable only if your name and address are pre-printed on the front. USCIS does not accept cash. This fee includes any dependents who are changing status with you
- Receipt of payment of SEVIS fee.
Letter of request
Your application must also include a letter explaining why you are requesting the change of status. This is extremely important. Your letter should clearly explain your current status, your plans for study at Baruch, and your longer-term plans as well.
Keep in mind that F-status is a non-immigrant classification. This means that you must indicate, and in certain cases may be required to document, that you continue to maintain ties to your home country—whether in the form of a residence, an expected job offer, or continuing family ties. It is not unusual for USCIS to request documentation regarding your ties to your home country, and you should be prepared to provide it.
Your letter must include all the following:
- H-1: Dates of employment under H-1 and the date of registration at Baruch. Also include a copy of the I-797 and other documentation establishing that you were in and maintained valid H-1 status. USCIS must receive your change of status application no later than when you terminate your H-1 employment, as there is no “grace period” for those in H-1 status: your status as an H-1 terminates the day you leave your H-1 employer.
- B-1 or B-2: When you entered the United States, you told a visa officer your reason for coming to the U.S. You should have a reasonable explanation for changing your intent from visiting the U.S to studying in the U.S. Any suspicion that you misrepresented your intentions when you originally entered the U.S. could lead to a denial of your change of status application, requiring you to change your status by travel instead.
- WT or WB: You cannot change your status in the United States if you entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program as a visitor for business or pleasure, as indicated by a “WT” or “WB” notation on your green I-94 card. You must change your status by travel (see the above section on Change by Travel).
- A or G: Before filing for a change of status, you must first file form I-566 with either the Department of State or the Office of Host Country Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations within 10 days of the completion if you’re A or G employment. Only after the I-566 has been approved and returned to you are you eligible to file a change of status application with the USCIS. Form I-566 and instructions are available from ISSC.
- J-1 or J2: You cannot change to F-1 in the U.S if you are subject to Section 212(e), also known as the “two-year home residency requirement”, unless you have received a recommendation for a waiver of the requirement from the Department of State.
- ISSC will review your application and make suggestions. Once completed, photocopy your application and mail your application and mail it to USCIS by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. For persons residing the New York area, mail your application to:
USPS, express mail and courier deliveries
When the USCIS receives your application, it will deposit your fee payment and mail you a Form I-797-Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number (EAC##). You can check the status of your application by calling the phone number on the bottom of the I-797 and entering your case number or via the USCIS website.
The form will also tell you an approximate processing time.
Timelines and restrictions
If you are in lawful status and decide to change to F-1 status by applying to USCIS, you remain in lawful status until you receive your reply from USCIS. However, until the change is approved, you do not have the privileges of student status which include working on campus, and applying for practical training. When USCIS has made a decision, they will send you a Form I-797-Notice of Action. If your application is approved, the I-797 will include a new I-94 card(s) and pages 1 and 3 of the SEVIS I-20 will be returned to you.
If you are applying for a change of status from B-2 to F-1, please note that you must fulfill the USCIS requirement of being in a valid student status for nine consecutive months before you are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Note that the USCIS can take up to six months to process a change of status application. If you do not receive a reply within six months, contact ISSC for assistance.
If you attempt to change your status by travel, but overstayed your previous visa, you must apply for a new F-1 visa in your home country; you cannot apply for an F-1 visa in a third country. If you overstayed your stay for more than 180 days, you may be prevented from returning to the United States for 10 years or more.
If you are in the United States unlawfully or have overstayed your current status, you are ineligible to apply for a change of status from within the Unites States.