When you enter the United States in nonimmigrant status, you do so for a specific purpose, such as study, work, or travel. You may enter the U.S. with one purpose and later change your purpose. When this happens, you may need to obtain a new status.
Gaining a New Nonimmigrant Status
There are two ways of gaining a new nonimmigrant status:
Option 1: Departure & Re-Entry
Obtain an I-20, then depart the U.S. You will need to then apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate, and reenter the U.S. with the new visa and other relevant documents. You will gain your new status when you are admitted into the U.S.
This process is usually faster than changing status while remaining in the U.S. and you obtain both the visa and the F1 status.
Potential downfalls of this method is the possibility of a delay or denial when visa is being processed, and the additional travel expense required.
Option 2: Change of Status Application
Submit an application to USCIS for a change of status. This option allows you to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the U.S. With this option you may gain the new status but you will not receive a new visa; visas are only issued outside the U.S.
If you choose this process you are allowed to remain in the U.S. while this application is processing. You also do not have to appear for a visa interview.
Potential downfalls of this method is that it is very slow (processing time of about 120 days), which could delay the start of your studies. You cannot leave the U.S. during the application process, or the application will be deemed abandoned. You do not receive a visa this way, so next time you travel outside the U.S. you must obtain an F1 visa. Additionally, if this application is denied, you will need to quickly depart the U.S.
When deciding which option is best for you, you should consider various factors: upcoming travel plans, application processing times, the end date date or special conditions of your current status. The regulations of your future status will help determine if it is best to travel and re-enter or apply to change status in the U.S. The following general information explains the process for applying to change nonimmigrant status in the U.S.
You may be able to change status if:
- You are maintaining your current status.
- You are eligible for the new status.
- Your current status does not prohibit change of status in the U.S. Contact OIP for more information regarding this if you are unaware if you can change status while in the U.S.
You generally cannot change status if:
- Your period of authorized stay has already expired.
- You have otherwise violated the conditions of your current status.
The OIP will assist with students changing status to become F1 or F2 if the principle student is enrolled at LTU.
The OIP does not assist with students who wish to change from F1 to H1-B, you must be assisted by your employer.
If you are currently an F1 student and are seeking of change of status, you must report that request to the OIP to ensure your SEVIS record is updated appropriately. A copy of your approval notice and/or new visa is required for any change of status.