If you are currently in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status other than F-1 student visa (H4; G4, L2, F2, etc.) you may study in your current status. Please consult with ISS if you have questions.
If you are currently in the U.S. as B1-B2 visa holder you cannot study. The regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(b)(7) specifically prohibit a course of study in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status (USCIS). If you are requesting to change B1-B2 status to F-1 status, do not enroll in classes or begin your studies until USCIS has approved your change of status.
Interested in changing you current non-immigrant status to an F-1 status? There are two ways to change your status:
- Apply for Change Of Status (COS) through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please note, USCIS processing time for COS cases is long. It may take from 9 to 12 months for USCIS to adjudicate your case. ISS will support you with processing an I-20 for “change of status requested”.
- Apply for F-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate in the home country. ISS will support you with processing an initial I-20.
Please note: you cannot apply for a change of status through USCIS if one of the following applies:
- You are currently in the US under the "visa waiver" program
- You are currently in the US as a J-1 exchange visitor or a J-2 dependent and are subject to the 2-Year Home Residency Requirement
- You are currently in the US, but are in violation of your current immigration status or you have exceeded your authorized legal stay in the US.
If none of the above is applicable to you and you decided to change your non-immigrant status to F-1 trough USCIS, you should retain an Immigration Attorney, given the complexity of the process. ISS will process an I-20 for change of status (provided you are qualified for such); immigration attorney will help you to file the COS case with USCIS.
We strongly recommend to travel to the home country, whenever it’s possible, and obtain an F-1 visa at U.S. consulate in the home country. The process is fairly easy and much faster that COS through USCIS. No waiting time, no hassle. When you re-enter with the visa stamp, F-1 visa benefits are applicable immediately.
Should you have questions pertaining to COS, please send an email to Mira Krasnov, the ISS Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.