Change of Visa Status

Change of Status Application from within the U.S.

  • Obtain an Initial-Change of Status Form I-20 from the International Student Center. Issuance of Form I-20 requires a Graduate Declaration of Finances Form or an Undergraduate Declaration of Finances Form  with proof of funds
  • Use the SEVIS number on the I-20 to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
  • File a Change of Status Application online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539 and upload the required documents when prompted:
    • Letter explaining the need to change visa status
    • Evidence of financial support (i.e., bank statement, scholarship letter, etc.)
    • Seattle U Acceptance Letter/Email or Proof of Enrollment
    • Change of Status I-20 (obtained from ISC)
    • Electronic Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp
  • After the Change of Status is approved by USCIS, submit the approval notice to ISC to obtain your Continued Attendance I-20

 

Change of Status by travel and re-enter the U.S.

  • Obtain an Initial Form I-20 from the International Student Center
  • Leave the U.S., apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate, and reenter the U.S. with the new F-1 visa and Initial I-20
  • Use the SEVIS number on the I-20 to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
  • Submit a copy of F-1 visa stamp and Form I-94 to ISC after arriving in the U.S. to obtain your Continued Attendance I-20

*Please note that F-1 benefits of CPT and OPT require one year of full-time study, and an approved change of status allows the student to apply previous full-time study toward this one-year requirement.

 

Applying for a Change of Status (COS) in the U.S. versus Travel and Re-entry

  Benefits of traveling outside the US to apply for an F-1 entry visa:

  • If the application is going to be approved, it is frequently approved quickly.
  • If you re-enter in F-1 status, you are entitled to the benefits of that status immediately, including on-campus employment.

Disadvantages of applying for an F-1 entry visa:

  • The application could be denied. In that case, you would not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.
  • You cannot enter the US more than 30 days before the report date indicated on the I-20.
  • Your application for an F-1 entry visa could be approved, but if you are subject to a security check, the approval could take months.

 

Benefits of applying for a Change of Status:

  • You don't have to travel and risk being denied re-entry into U.S.
  • This process is generally less expensive (you will have to pay the SEVIS Fee and the Application fee but no travel cost).

Disadvantages of applying for a Change of Status: 

  • It can take several months to be approved, and you are bound to the requirements of your current visa status until then.
  • If the application for a Change of Status is approved, it only changes your status in the U.S. This means that if you travel outside the U.S. during your program of study and wish to re-enter in F-1 student status, you would still need to apply for the F-1 entry visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • If the application is denied and your previous status has expired, you will not have any valid non-immigrant status in the U.S and will be required to leave the U.S. on very short notice, possibly causing an interruption in your program of study.