Change of Status Information

Overview

F-1 or J-1 student status is appropriate if you plan to pursue full-time studies in the United States. If you are currently in the United States on a non-immigrant visa classification, you may change to F-1 or J-1 student status by travel or by filing an application with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS].

Eligibility for a Change of Status

In general, if you are a non-immigrant who has maintained lawful status you may apply for change of status to F-1 or J-1 student by submitting an application with the USCIS.

Exceptions: If any of the following apply,  you will not be able to file an application for a change of status with the USCIS:

  • You are a non-immigrant subject to the Section 212[e] two-year home residency requirement and are ineligible to apply.
  • You are currently in WT or WB status.
  • You cannot demonstrate current lawful status.

If you are not eligible to file an application for a change of status within the U.S., it may be possible to travel outside the U.S. to apply for the F-1 or J-1 student visa and enter the U.S. in a new status.  

Students that have had a permanent residency petition filed should consult with an immigration attorney working on that petition regarding your plans to file for F-1 student status.

Information if Your Current Visa Status is F-2

F-2 dependents (spouse or child) may enroll in less than 12 units (part-time) in degree seeking classes.

An F-2 spouse or child may only engage in a full course of study by applying for and obtaining a change of status. Until then, only part-time (below 12 units) of enrollment is permitted.

Information if Your Current Visa Status is B-1/B-2 or WT/WB

B-1/B-2 visitor status or WT/WB CANNOT enroll in classes until the Change of Status to F-1/J-1 request is granted.

Options for a Change of Status

Traveling Outside of the U.S.

You may change your status by departing the United States and re-entering in F-1 or J-1 student status. In order to re-enter the United States in F-1 or J-1 student status, you must have a valid, unexpired F-1 entry visa. To apply for F-1 or J-1 visa and enter the U.S., you will need to do the following:

  • Request an I-20/DS-2019 document by completing the Student Visa Document Request.
  • Once you receive your new visa document from the International Center, you can pay the SEVIS fee.
  • Schedule a visa appointment with a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply for an F-1 or J-1 student visa.
  • At your visa appointment, you will need financial documents to demonstrate that you can support your studies at UCI for at least one year; demonstrate a close connection to your home country; and a copy of your admissions letter from UCI.
  • Once you obtain your new visa and you return to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 student status, you will need to complete the International Center Visa Check-In: iNavigateUCI.

Filing a Change of Status Application Inside of the U.S.

Consult with an immigration attorney if you choose not to travel outside of the U.S. to obtain the F-1 or J-1 student visa. You will still need to request an I-20/DS-2019 for this process.

  • Request an I-20/DS-2019 document by completing the Student Visa Document Request.
  • Complete Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Application fee as stated on Form I-539.
  • You can track the processing of the application on the USCIS website.
  • Processing times for the I-539 application is approximately 90-120 days (or possibly longer).
    • Note: The International Center cannot request an expedite of your application.

After Your Change of Status is Approved

  • Once you receive your approval notice, you will need to contact the International Center [949.824.7249] and schedule an appointment to see an IC student advisor.
  • You will need to bring the following items to your appointment: Approval Notice, your I-94 document, and passport.
  • You will be asked to complete the International Center Visa Check-In: iNavigateUCI to gain a better understanding of your responsibilities as an F-1/J-1 visa holder.
  • Your SEVIS record will be activated after you have met with an IC student advisor.

WEEKLY EVENTS


Travel Signature

Request Process



CPT/OPT Walk In

Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday
9 - 11 a.m.
International Center


Coffee Hour

Every Friday 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Counseling Center, Student Services I

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