Washington State University

International Programs

Global Services

Change of Visa Status

F-1 student status is a non-immigrant academic status that allows students to pursue a full course of study in the United States. A change of status is necessary for individuals who entered the United States in a different immigration status and intend to pursue a full course of study. Applicants changing status must document, per the Immigration and Nationally Act, they intend to leave the United States after completion of their program of study. 

Steps for Changing Status
  • Apply and be fully admitted into a degree program
  • Intend to enroll full-time in a degree program
  • Document eligibility to change status (you are currently maintaining status or intend to maintain status)
  • Provide proof of adequate funding for program of study
Options for Changing Status

You can change your status in two ways:

  • Travel outside the US and re-enter in F or J status
  • Apply for a change of status inside the United States with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Come speak with an international advisor to understand your options.


    General Requirements

    • Obtain an I-20

    • Depart the United States

    • Pay the 200 dollar SEVIS fee

    • Obtain a valid F visa stamp to re-enter the US

    • Get admission at the US Port of Entry (POE) in F status

    *This may be considered a ‘faster’ way to change status if one does not experience any travel delays

    Petition to USCIS inside the US

    General Requirements

    • Be eligible for a status change in the US under 8 C.F.R. § 248.1 and § 248.2 (more information listed below)
    • Obtain an I-20
    • Pay the 200 dollar SEVIS fee
    • File an electronic or paper form I-539
    • Document current immigration status
    • Provide financial support
    • Request a change of status
    • File in a timely fashion

    *This may take longer to process

    Applicants for change of nonimmigrant status are encouraged to meet with a Global Services advisor to review the application procedure and check documents prior to submitting the application for change of status.

    Eligibility for Changing Status in the US

    The following nonimmigrants are not permitted to change status to F-1 in the United States:

    • M-1 students
    • C,D,K, and S statuses
    • J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education/training
    • J-1 and J-2 nonimmigrants subject to the 212 (e) 2 year foreign residence requirement
    • Visitors admitted under 8 CFR 212.1 (e)
    • WT and WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

    When to Apply

    It is best to discuss timing for travel or a petition in the US with a Global Services advisor, because timing can vary case-by-case. We recommend your underlying status be valid for the duration of your status change.

    Procedures for Applying
    • Obtain evidence of your eligibility for the new status (SEVIS I-20/DS-2019);
    • Complete an electronic or paper form I-539 (form I-539 can be downloaded at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-539.pdf; Instructions are at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-539instr.pdf
    • Financial verification (e.g. bank statement, assistantship offer letter, etc.) For the amount of support required to qualify see Estimated Expenses
    • Letter requesting change of status and explaining why the change is needed. Include the reason you did not enter the U.S. in desired status from the start, if applicable.
    • Copy of valid passport
    • Copy of visa stamp
    • Copy of I-94 form (front and back)
    • $290 check or money order (payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security);
    • If on dependent visa, provide a copy of principal's documents (e.g. passport, visa, I-94 and I-20ID/DS-2019)
    • Copy of marriage certificate, if applicable.
    • Copy of SEVIS fee receipt (see SEVIS 901 Fee) www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm

    If submitting a paper application, see I-539 instructions for mailing address

    Notification of Change of Status Approval

    If you change your status while at WSU (i.e. from F-1 to H-1B or permanent resident), you must notify Global Services with appropriate documentation (e.g. approval notice, stamped I-20/DS-2019)

    If you are employed at WSU when a change of status occurs, you must notify Payroll Services, and the hiring department (i.e. from F-1 to H-1B, etc. or to that of a permanent resident or immigrant). Notification is necessary so that WSU’s records are current and consistent.

    Nonimmigrants can incur significant tax liability if their tax withholding is not consistent with their immigration status.

    Office of International Programs

    International Programs, PO Box 645121, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5121, 509-335-2541, Contact Us