How to Change your Status to F-1

There are two ways to obtain F-1 status if you are already in the United States, for example if you arrived as a prospective student and decide to stay and pursue your studies:

  1. You can submit an application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. When you receive an acceptance letter and F-1 I-20 from Michigan Tech, you can leave the US and apply for an F-1 visa from your home country.

Option 1

If you file for a status change while you are here it will take about three to five months to process. You must make an appointment with International Programs and Services, and bring everything on the checklist to the meeting.

You Need to Know

You will be changing your immigration status. It is not the same as a visa.

A visa is required to enter the US. A visa is not required for you to stay in the US.

You will still have to get a new visa the next time you leave the United States and want to return.

Work and study may be delayed

  • You can begin your academic program when your status change of status is approved, not before that, unless you currently hold F-2 status. Contact IPS to have your I-20 deferred to the next semester.
  • You will also probably have to wait for your change of status to be approved before you can begin working at an on-campus job, for example, a graduate assistantship.

Getting your change of status (COS) approved depends on your current status.

  • F-2 status holders cannot register for full-time classes, or receive any paid assistantships, or on-campus employment work authorization until the F-1 COS is approved.
  • Individuals on J-1/J-2 status are required to return home for two years after completing their J-1 program. They are not eligible for COS within the United States unless they have proof that the two-year residency requirement has been waived.

Option 2

Leave the US, then return under F-1 status.

What you need to do:

  • Receive an acceptance letter and F-1 I-20 from Michigan Tech
  • Pay SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Apply for F-1 visa S. embassy/consulate abroad (not necessary if you are a Canadian citizen)
  • Re-enter the US in F-1 status within 30 days before the program start date on your I-20
  • Begin your academic program at Michigan Tech