Change of Status
Most students must be in F-1 or J-1 status to study at DU. Certain other immigration statuses, such as J-2, H-4, and R-2, permit students to study in the United States as well. However, these immigration statuses are often only valid until the age of 21 for children of the principal student, scholar, or employee. You may wish to discuss your options for changing your immigration status with an international student advisor after you are admitted to the University.
Options for Changing Status
There are two ways to acquire F-1 or J-1 status:
- Submit a petition for a change of status to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.
Petition for a Change of Status
If you currently hold another valid immigration status in the U.S., you may be eligible to submit a petition for a change of status to USCIS. For students changing to F-1 status, the Office of International Admission will issue a special I-20 for this petition. You should then meet with an international student advisor in International Student and Scholar Services to discuss the petition process once you have the change of status I-20. An advisor will help you complete the required petition forms and will submit your application to USCIS for you.
A change of status petition may take 3 - 6 months to process, and USCIS charges a $290 filing fee. We recommend that you not leave the United States while the petition is in process, as this may be considered abandoning the application. Until the change of status has been approved, you will not be able to begin your program at DU. If the petition is still in process at the start of your term of admission, your admission must be deferred to a future term.
Apply for a U.S. Visa Abroad
You may leave the United States and apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. This process is not considered a "change of status" for immigration purposes, but it does have the effect of acquiring a different immigration status for you. For students changing to F-1 status, the Office of International Admissions will issue a standard Initial Attendance I-20 to apply for the visa. ISSS will issue the DS-2019 for J-1 students.
Applying for a U.S. visa gives you more control over changing your immigration status, but requires a trip outside the United States, which may be costly. We strongly recommend against applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico, since initial visa applications have a high rate of denial in these countries. If you are already planning a trip to your home country, and visa processing times there are not lengthy, applying for a U.S. visa there may be the best option for you.