Changing Visa Status to F-1
If you are intending to study, or already studying at Texas State in a nonimmigrant visa classification other than F-1 student, it may be possible to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status to F-1 student. To apply for a change to F-1 visa status, you will need a Form I-20 (certificate of eligibility) from the International Office. You must first be admitted to Texas State University for a program of study before an I-20 can be issued to you.
The Change of Status (COS) process only changes your status, i.e., the classification indicated on your I-94 record and not the visa stamp in your passport. To receive the F-1 visa stamp in your passport you can either:
- Apply for a change of status in the US using the I-539 then once approved travel outside the US and apply for an F-1 student visa at a US consulate in your home country to be able to return to the US as an F-1 student.
- Alternatively, instead of applying for a change of status in the US, you may obtain a Form I-20 from the International Office and return to your home country to apply for an F-1 visa at a US consulate to reenter the US as an F-1 student. Review the Steps After Being Admitted for more information on the change of status process outside the US.
The International Office strongly recommends traveling outside the US with a new Form I-20 and applying for an F-1 visa in your home country. The in-country change of status application is timely and unpredictable.
When requesting an I-20 you must indicate which semester you would like your F-1 status to begin (we recommend choosing a semester which begins at least 8-12 months into the future). Additionally, you must submit financial documents that show an ability to support yourself for your program.
You can find the current Tuition and Fee Estimates which will be listed on your Form I-20.
*Please note that the process for a Change of Status (COS) is taking longer to approve by USCIS.*
We highly recommend if you decide to change your status do so two semesters in advance before graduation. Avoid applying for COS your last semester.
To learn the process of Changing Status: download the Changing Status to F-1 Handout
An experienced immigration lawyer is best positioned to advise on all aspects of any change of status application, including the timing, type, and number of bridge applications that may have to be filed, exploring alternative immigration strategies such as consular processing and reentry instead of applying for change of status, responding to Requests for Evidence (RFEs), and other matters that relate to the personal immigration status of the student and his or her dependents.
A change of status application is a personal application of the alien, and can have complex impact on the alien's immigration status and eligibility for future immigration benefits. Although college-based advisers need to be aware of the general issues surrounding change of status, applicants needing immigration advice and help planning an immigration strategy should be referred to an experienced immigration attorney.