Newly admitted students considering an application for a change of status must consult with the SMCHS International Admissions Director before submitting the application. Your I-20 must be issued for change of status not initial entry.
Students are required to submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status. Fees and instructions are on the USCIS I-539, Application To Change Nonimmigrant Status webpage.
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.
Change of Status is a complicated process which in some cases can result in requests for further evidence or a denial. In order to submit the best possible application, we suggest that you contact an immigration attorney.
- Ability to stay in the U.S. during processing
- Avoid the hassle of a visa application process (for now)
- Processing can be very slow (six to nine months, and as long as one year), which may jeopardize your ability to begin school
- You must stay in the U.S. during processing; exiting the U.S. cancels the application
- You must still obtain a visa stamp to match your status the next time you travel outside the U.S. (except for trips under 30 days to Canada or Mexico)
- The application might be denied, which could require you 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 expiration date or special conditions of your current status.
Important things to remember:
If you are currently in B1/B2 status:
- Individuals in B1/B2 status are prohibited from “enrolling in a course of study” until after USCIS approves their change of status application.
- If you are currently in any other status (ex. L or F2.):
- If your current status allows full-time studies in the U.S., you may start classes before your change of status application is approved.
Students Who Submit a Change of Status Application to USCIS:
Provide a copy of your USCIS Receipt Notice to the SMCHS International Student Admissions Office firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to be eligible to enroll and start school, you must provide a copy of your USCIS I-797 Approval Notice to the SMCHS International Student Admissions Office email@example.com.
If your application is still pending after the I-20 program start date, SMCHS must issue you a new I-20 with a deferred program start date and you cannot attend SMCHS until approved by USCIS.