An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the US. Once the educational objectives have been achieved, the F-1 student is expected to return to his or her residence abroad.

A student acquires F-1 status using Form I-20, issued by the U.S. school which the student is attending/planning to attend. Status is acquired in one of two ways: 1) by entering the United States with the I-20 and an F-1 visa obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement); or 2) by applying to USCIS for change of nonimmigrant status (if the student is already in the United States and cannot travel). Please note that if you choose the latter form of acquiring F-1 status, you will not receive an F-1 travel visa, only F-1 status. This means that if you later travel outside the U.S. while in F-1 status, you will have to apply for F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in order to be able to return to the U.S.

A person of any non-immigrant status except C, D, K, or M (and in some cases J), and except those who entered the United States under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, can apply for a change to F-1 status if he/she has maintained lawful non-immigrant status up to the time of application. Those with J status who are subject to 212(e) two-year home country physical requirement may not change status in the U.S. unless a waiver has been granted. Non-immigrants in A, G, or NATO status must first complete Form I-566, and have it properly endorsed by the foreign mission to the U.S. and the Department of State.


Applicants must have a valid immigration status at the time of filing. In order to change status while in the U.S. from a dependent (F-2/B-2) to a student (F-1) status you will need to be admitted to a full-time academic program at a school that can issue you a Form I-20. In addition, your F-1 spouse or B-1 sponsor must be in the U.S. and in status when you are requesting this change. 

Application Process

Request a Change of Status I-20 or DS-2019

Students applying for a Change of Status to F-1 student status will need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 from the DSO. Students are advised to meet with the DSO prior to requesting a new I-20 or DS-2019. 

Change of Status Application Review

EGSC does not advise on Change of Status applications. We highly recommend working with a reliable and reputable immigration attorney on any Change of Status application. Currently enrolled students at East Georgia State College can first consult with Legal Services regarding the Change of Status application procedures. 

USCIS Application Forms

Find application forms, instructions, and additional resources on the USCIS I-539 webpage

Submit Application to USCIS

Online Submission: Many Change of Status applications can now be completed online. Please see the USCIS Check Your Eligibility to File Form I-539 Online webpage for more information.

Paper Application: If you are not able to file online, please see the USCIS I-539 webpage for the most recent version of the paper application form as well as the USCIS I-539 Filing Address webpage for information on where to mail the application. 

Change of Status Application Materials

The following list is as an example of likely documents you need to include, but it may not be exhaustive. EGSC recommends working with a qualified immigration attorney if you have any questions about filing your Change of Status application.

  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Personal statement detailing request to change status
  • 3 months of financial documentation to cover tuition, fees, and living expenses
  • Copy of visa page and passport
  • I-94 record (located at www.cbp.gov/i94)
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt (if changing to F-1 or J-1)
  • Proof of eligibility to change status, such as:
    • Immigration document for requested status, such as I-20 or DS-2019
    • Admission letter
    • Marriage certificate or birth certificate
    • Translation of marriage certificate or birth certificate, if not in English
  • Proof of maintenance of current status, such as: 
    • Copies of all previously issued I-20s (F-1) or DS-2019s (J-1) for current status
    • Enrollment certificate
    • Transcripts
    • Copy of EAD and employment documentation
  • Copy of principal's immigration documents, if changing to dependent status, such as:
    • I-20, DS-2019, etc. 
    • Visa page and passport
    • I-94 record
    • EAD card and employment documentation, if applicable
  • Any supplementary documentation relevant to Change of Status request
  • Application forms for paper applications mailed to USCIS:
    • Completed Form I-539
    • Completed Form I-539A
    • Completed G-1145
    • Personal check or money order for $370 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Pending Application

USCIS Processing Timeline

It can take USCIS six months or longer, depending on the USCIS service center location that is processing the application. Review the estimated processing times for each service center here.

DSO Process

Please provide DSO a copy of the I-797 receipt notice and approval or denial notice, once received. In addition to the link below, you many also use this QR Code to safely upload your documents for processing.

qr code Submit Docs to Admissions - Dynamic Forms Upload