Change of Status Applications

Students in the United States who want to change their current non-immigrant visa status to F-1 should email the OCC International Students Office. The student will need to apply to OCC, complete all steps listed under Admission Requirements and take the OCC ESL Placement Test.

You can apply to change your visa type if it is still valid and you have not violated your status since arriving in the United States. You must maintain your current visa status until you receive a form I797 notice of action from USCIS that shows your new student visa status (F1) is approved.

You should apply right away if you decide to study in the United States (please read the note for details). If you are denied student visa status you will either keep your original visa status until it expires or be ready to depart the U.S. The OCC International Students Office strongly advises you to contact an immigration attorney for help with your change of status application.

There are two options for changing your status

1.) Travel and Reentry

Leave the United States and visit an outside US Embassy/Consulate to change your visa type. Return to the United States with your new visa and begin your student status. This option is faster but keep this in mind:

  1. If you are already studying at OCC under another visa that allows study we don’t recommend you leave the country to change status.
  2. Do not attempt to change status by traveling in the middle of a semester. Apply early and travel during an approved period to prevent trouble with your classes.
  3. Talk to an OCC International Student Advisor before leaving to discuss your options and any potential issues.


To apply for a change of status outside the US you need to complete these steps:

  1. Complete a request for an I-20 in the F1 Student Portal
  2. Print your financial documents (bank statements and affidavits of support)
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee
  4. Print proof of your SEVIS fee payment
  5. Schedule an appointment in your home country’s U.S. Embassy/Consulate (third country applications are usually difficult)
  6. Leave the U.S. (only do this when school is not in session to avoid any issues)
  7. Attend your visa interview and receive your Visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
  8. Reenter the U.S. on your new F1 Visa
  9. Upon reentry to the U.S. you must visit the International Students Office to show your visa and I94 with the new visa status
  10. You are required to enroll full time while studying at OCC. For questions about this please contact an International Student Advisor

2.)   Change Status in the United States

We recommend that you speak to an immigration attorney to apply for your change of status application with USCIS. OCC International Student Advisors are not immigration attorneys. An immigration attorney will help you with the USCIS rules that impact your application. You should apply 12 months in advance of your new status. Please take the following with you when you meet with the attorney:

  1. I-20, copy of I-94 (printout or card issued at border crossing), passport, visa and DS-2019 if in J status (J status may also require a waiver of the 212(e) 2 year residency requirement from USCIS)
  2. Original financial documents (If supported by family or relatives you may be required to provide an affidavit of support form)
  3. A letter explaining what you have been doing while in the U.S., why you are seeking a change of status to F-1, and stating clear educational goals
  4. USCIS fee of $370.00 (check or money order)

For current information please visit the form I539 Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status webpage

***Do not travel to change your status if you apply in the U.S. If you decide you want to travel to speed up the process, please meet with an international student advisor and complete the change between semesters. Failure to report travel can result in problems with reentry to the United States***

Note: Other non-immigrants may begin attendance before receiving F-1 status if allowed by their current visa. Persons with a current B-2 status applying to change status must wait until USCIS approves F-1 status before attending OCC. See USCIS Special Instructions.  B-2 persons should not look at changing status if they've been in the U.S. for less than 2 months. USCIS will assume you knew you wanted to be a student when you entered the U.S. as a visitor.