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Changing to Student Status

To change your status in the United States* to student status from your present status, you will need to be officially accepted to a full-time academic program. If your status is that of a spouse (F-2, J-2, H-4), your spouse must be in the U.S. in valid status when you are requesting this change. F-2 status holders must first receive the F-1 approval from immigration to begin full-time studies and/or work on the assistantship. J-2 holders must first receive J-1 approval or J-2 work authorization before they can begin work on campus. If you are in any other status in the U.S. you must be in valid status in order to request a change of status to F-1 from immigration.

A. You will need a valid reason for requesting the change to F-1 or J-1, such as:

  • Admission to a school and/or an assitantship by the shcool you will attend,
  • a written request from your sponsor requesting you to change status, and/or
  • your spouse is graduating and returning to your home country and you need more time to complete your studies.

B. Your request to the Immigration Service for the change to student status should include the following:

  1. Letter from you to USCIS Immigration Officer containing the following:
    • your address, telephone number, and date;
    • your request to change from your visa status stating that you will be a full-time student and the reason for requesting the change (item from A. above);
    • your plans to return to your home country once you are completed with your program; and
    • if F-2 changing to F-1, proof that you were not a full-time student shile in F-2 status.
  2. Completed SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 signed both by the school and you - (school issues).
  3. Copy of I-94 departure card (white card usually stapled to your passport) - applicant.
  4. Copy of your passport bio-data page and U.S. entry visa and all past immigration documents - applicant.
  5. Two original financial documents (example - bank leter; school award; family letter w/bank letter - applicant). Also, ISS will need original financial documents for your file.
  6. If an individual in F-2, J-2 or H-4 visa status is changing to F-1/J-1, copies of your spouse's or parent's vaild immigration forms, i.e., I-20/DS-2019, vias, passport, etc. are required. (Note if the J-1 visa holder has a two year home residency requirement, so does the J-2. Therefore, in order to change status from a J-1 to J-2, the J-2 must have a waiver.)
  7. Completed form I-539 - applicant
  8. Check payable to USCIS for Change of Status Fee of $300.00 - applicant.
  9. I-901 SEVIS Fee - Receipt of payment of fee must be included in your change of status application package.

The above application package should be submitted to the USCIS Vermont Service Center in St. Albans, Vermont. Please keep a copy of the application.

We strongly recommend that you mail the application packet by certified mail (return receipt requeted for proof of mailing).

*If you are traveling out of the U.S., please take the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form with you and obtain the F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport at a Consulate outside the U.S. and entering the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student status.

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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