Steps to Take
Step 1 – Complete the International Admissions Process
- Wait for your admissions decision from the International Programs Office.
- If you are admitted, we will issue your admissions letter and Form I-20.
Step 2 - Schedule an appointment with the International Programs Office in order to sign the document.
- When you come to your appointment, please be sure to bring the items below to the appointment.
- Your change of status application cannot be sent to USCIS until all of the documents below have been submitted to the International Programs Office. Students who file the application through an attorney or use the ELIS electronic filing process should see additional information at the bottom of this page.
Step 3 - Prepare Your Documents for the International Programs Office
- Review your I-20 and make sure there are no mistakes on the document.Sign and date the I-20 on page 1 where indicated. A copy of the signed document will be included with your change of status application.
- Form I-539Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status - Complete the entire form. For an online copy, go to the USCIS Forms Page and complete Form I-539 before printing. A hand-written signature is required. Email email@example.com if you have questions about any of the items.
- Form G-1145 e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance- This optional form will allow USCIS to send you notification by email or text if they have questions or if they need additional information about your change of status.
- Letter from student applicant to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security explaining why you want to change your visa status to F-1. Address the letter "To Whom It May concern." If you are applying for change of status while currently on a dependent visa, be sure to specify in your letter whether your spouse is currently working as well as when their work period is scheduled to end.
- Copy of your most recent I-94. Students who do not yet have a paper copy of their I-94 should go to cbp.gov/I94in order to print the electronic record.
- Copy of passport and visa. If your current passport or visa documents have expired, you will not be approved for the change to F-1 status.
- Copy of primary visa holder’s or dependent’s documents, whichever is applicable:
- Passport, visa, and paper I-94 (front and back) or electronic I-94 documents.
- If you are the dependent of an H1B or L1 visa holder, you should provide documentation such as a letter from the employer stating their current work status, and expected termination date or duration of employment.
- Proof of $200 SEVIS fee payment. You must log in to the SEVIS Fee Payment site and pay the $200 SEVIS fee using the information on the Form I-20. Print your receipt to include with the I-539 application documents.
- $290 check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (do not abbreviate). This fee is for the change of status application.
Step 4 - Prepare Your Documents for Submission to USCIS
Once the requested items above are reviewed by the International Programs Office, the student should assemble and prepare their application for submission to the USCIS Texas Service Center. The student must make copies of all documents that are being submitted. Sending the documents to the USCIS Service Center is the responsibility of the student. The documents may be sent by US postal service or by courier service (FedEx, UPS, or Lone Star). However, the preferred method is overnight shipping which can be tracked and receipt documented. Here are the addresses for the postal service and courier service options:
- S. Postal Service: Courier Service:
PO Box 660166 ATTN: I-539
Dallas TX 75266 2501 S State Hwy 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville TX 75067
- The I-20 will be available to the student for signature by appointment with an International Programs Office staff member. The student can review the I-20 for accuracy and take the original document with them at the time of the signing.
- Student must pay the SEVIS fee in order to submit the change of status application. See information regarding this fee, directions about payment, and how to submit your payment on the web page for the SEVIS Fee Payment. A copy of the I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org in order for it to be entered into the student's record.
- A Form I-797 Notice of Action will be sent by email or mail from USCIS to the person who filed the application. A copy of this Notice of Action must be sent by email to email@example.com in order for it to be entered into the student's record.
- The change of status process may take from 90 to 120 days to complete. If the I-20 program start date (item 5 on Form I-20) arrives before the change of status is approved, the DSO must update the start date to a future semester in order to avoid auto-cancellation of the I-20 by SEVIS. It is the student's responsibility to notify the International Programs Office DSO about the progress of your change of status application before the first class day and immediately when the student is notified, whether it has been approved or denied.
- During the adjudication process, if the current visa status held allows enrollment, the student should enroll in full-time classes and attend the next available international student orientation session
IMPORTANT: The change of status process may take from 90 to 120 days to complete. If the I-20 program start date (Item 5 on Form I-20) arrives before the change of status is approved, the DSO must update the start date to a future semester in order to avoid auto-cancellation of the I-20 by SEVIS. It is the student's responsibility to notify the International Programs Office DSO about the progress of your change of status application and whether it has been approved or denied.
Within one week of submitting the documents, the student will receive a Notice of Action form stating that the service center has received the documents and will begin the process. Students must send a copy of this notice to firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure tracking of the change of status.
Optional e-File Submission or Use of Personal Attorney - Additional Requirements
Students may choose to e-file the application documents for their change of status through the USCIS ELIS website to complete the process OR hire a personal attorney to complete the application for them. There are additional steps students must be aware of if they choose to take these steps.