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International Student and Scholar Services

Visa & Immigration

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.

If you are in the United States and have a non-immigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 that allows full-time study, you may remain in that status or you may obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU.

If you are in the United States in a non-immigrant status that does not allow full-time study such as B-2 or F-2, you are required to obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU.

We recommend that you contact an international student advisor as soon as possible to discuss your situation. You can call 303-871-4912 or visit our office.

Options for Changing Status

There are two ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 status to study full-time at DU after you have been admitted to a full-time program and have qualified for Form I-20 or DS-2019:

There are many factors to consider when deciding which option is best for you and an international student advisor can help you decide.

Apply for an F-1 or J-1 entry visa at a U.S. consulate abroad

Leave the United States, apply for an F-1 or J-1 entry visa at a U.S. consulate abroad using an I-20 or DS-2019 from DU and supporting documents, and apply for admission to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. Your new status begins when you are admitted to the U.S. and given an I-94.

Advantages

  • It is faster than changing status in the U.S.; and
  • You will obtain both the entry visa and the status.

Disadvantages

  • There is a possibility of visa processing delay; and
  • The expense of travel.

APPLY FOR A US VISA ABORAD

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.

Submit Application to USCIS for Change of Status

Submit an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status (see eligibility and restrictions below).

Advantages

  • You can stay in the U.S. while the application is processed; and
  • The cost is lower than traveling.

Disadvantages

    • Processing can take 2-4 months and sometimes longer;
    • Depending on your current status, you may not be able to begin your full-time studies or accept employment such as a research or teaching assistantship or on-campus job until the change of status is approved;
    • If you leave the U.S. while the application is pending, it is cancelled and you can only reenter in F-1 or J-1 status by following Option 1 above;
    • You will not receive a U.S. entry visa for the new status and you will have to apply for it the next time you travel abroad (exception: travel to some contiguous territories for 30 days or less); and
    • If the application is denied, you must leave the U.S. quickly and follow Option 1 above.

Eligibility

You may be able to change status to F-1 or J-1 after qualifying for an I-20 or DS-2019 from DU if

  • You are maintaining your current nonimmigrant status and can maintain it until 30 days before the reporting date on the I-20 or DS-2019 and USCIS issues a receipt notice for the application;
  • Your current status allows a change of status. See below for restrictions.

You generally cannot change status if

  • Your period of authorized stay has expired or will expire more than 30 days before the reporting date on the I-20 or DS-2019;
  • You have otherwise violated the conditions of your current status.

Restrictions

Individuals in J status who are subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement can only change status in the U.S. to A or G status. Persons admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (W/T or W/B on the I-94) cannot change status in the U.S. Persons who hold C, D, or K status cannot change status in the U.S.A vocational student in M status cannot change to F status.

Application Process

If you have determined that you are eligible for a change of status and you have received an I-20 or DS-2019 from DU for a change of status, submit the following to ISSS for review. If the application is complete, ISSS will give you instructions to mail the application to USCIS.

  • Form G-1145
  • Form I-539
  • A bank check, money order or personal check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $290 with "I-539" noted in the memo line (Note that the fee will increase to $370 on 12/23/2016. If your application arrives on or after 12/23/2016, you must pay the new fee.)
  • Receipt note for payment of the SEVIS fee. This fee can be paid online by completing Form I-901
  • A letter explaining why you are requesting the change of status. Your letter should state your current status and your plans to study at DU
    • If you are in a status that does not allow study, it should also explain that you did not intend to study full-time when you entered the U.S. in your current status. Include the date you entered the U.S., why you decided to study full-time, when you applied for your academic program and when you were admitted
    • If you are in a status that allows full-time study, explain why you want to change your status to F-1 or J-1
  • Photocopies of your I-94
  • Photocopy of your I-20 or DS-2019 from DU and for any dependents applying with you. You must sign at the bottom of page 1. Do not send the original document. It will not be returned to you
  • Copies of original financial support documents
  • Photocopy of the identification page of your passport and the passports of any dependents filing with you. Do not send the original passport
  • Copy of marriage certificate and/or birth certificates with translations for any dependents filing with you.
Additional information for H-1 or L-1
  • Copy of the I-797 approval notice
  • Copies of your three most recent pay stubs
  • Other documentation establishing that you are in and maintain valid H-1 or L-1 status
  • The USCIS must receive your change of status application no later than the day you terminate your H-1 or L-1 employment, as there is no "grace period" for those in H-1 or L-1 status: your status as an H-1 or L-1 terminates the day you leave your H-1 or L-1 employment.
Additional information for H-4 or L-2
  • Copies of the evidence listed above for  the H-1's or L-1's status at the time the H-4 or L-2 files the application with USCIS
  • Copy of evidence of the relationship to the H-1 or L-1 such as a birth or marriage certificate with translation.
Additional information for A or G
  •  Form I-566 which must be filed with and approved by either the Department of State or the Office of Host Country Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations within 10 days of the completion of your A or G employment
  • Only after the I-566 has been approved and returned to you are you eligible to file a change of status application with the USCIS.
Additional information for J-1 or J-2
  • You cannot change to F-1 in the U.S. if you are subject to Section 212(e), also known as the "two-year home residency requirement", unless you have received a recommendation for a waiver of the requirement from the Department of State
  • A copy of the waiver recommendation, if applicable
  • Your DS-2019 and the DS-2019s for any dependents changing status from J-2 to F-2
  • From F-2: Copies of the F-1’s I-20 and paper I-94, front and back, or electronic I-94.

Petition for 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.