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Change of Status to F-1

We advise that you consult with an immigration attorney regarding your change of status application. Go to Immigration attorneys for a list of attorneys. National Immigration Legal Services Directory for free or low-cost immigration legal services. Please note, these attorneys are not endorsed or guaranteed by OISS or the University.


  • Admission to the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Maintained lawful status in current non-immigrant status

Important Information

  • It may take more than 6 months for the Form I-539 to be processed by USCIS.
  • Students may not begin employment and use an assistantship until the change of status (COS) to F-1 is effective unless your current immigration status permits study and/or employment. The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) recommends that you study if you are eligible to study while your change of status application is pending in order to be able to activate your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) once the change of status is approved and effective.
    • If your current status will expire before your F-1 status is approved and effective, you cannot continue studying after your status expires.
    • Refer to nonimmigrant status (PDF) for a list of nonimmigrant statuses that can and cannot study.
  • OISS recommends you maintain your current status until the F-1 student status is approved.
  • When you get your approval you must notify an OISS advisor and provide us with a copy of the approval notice from USCIS so that we can register your change of status in SEVIS.
  • Travel out of the country while a change of status application is pending is considered an abandonment of the application and will cancel your change of status application. Please meet with an OISS advisor if you want to travel out of the country while your change of status application is pending.
  • If the change of status has not been approved by the add/drop date of the semester the program starts, contact an OISS advisor to determine if the program start date should be deferred.
  • With an approved change of status in the U.S., students will need to apply for an F-1 visa if they travel out of the country. Visa approval is not guaranteed.
    • NOTE: Canadian citizens are exempt from having an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. but travel and reentry with Form I-94 is required to obtain F-1 status.
  • If you have filed for an immigrant status (Permanent Resident), your COS may be denied; refer to an immigration attorney for assistance.
  • If you apply for a COS soon after arriving in the U.S., your application may be denied due to false representation of your non-immigrant intent upon entry.
  • Refer to Changing to a Nonimmigrant F or M Student Status for more information.
It is your responsibility to keep track of the change of status to F-1 application and to keep OISS updated of any changes.

How to Apply

Application Documents for OISS

  • Copy of admission letter to the University of Nevada, Reno (University) if OISS does not already have it.
  • Student I-20/DS-2019 Request Form - select "Change of Status - in or out of the U.S." as the reason for your request.
  • Copies of the bio page of the passport (include extension page if applicable), current visa and Form I-94 (front and back if you have the card) for applicant and dependent(s) (if applicable).
  • Proof of funding: original financial institution documents and/or graduate assistantship offer letter and/or scholarship offer letter showing financial support for self and family (if applicable) to cover amount required for 1 academic year (check with OISS for the required amount). The original documents should have been issued within 6 months of the change of status application.
    • If the proof of funding is from a sponsor not under the applicant’s name, the sponsor should submit a Financial Data Form.

Apply Outside the U.S. (Recommended)

  • An alternative to changing your status within the U.S. would be to travel outside the country to apply for an F-1 student visa. OISS recommends you travel to your home country to apply for the F-1 visa.
  • You will obtain an I-20 from OISS then pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before applying for the F-1 visa.
    • Go to U.S. Visas to get information on applying for a visa to study in the U.S.
  • You will have to complete the OISS Class Registration requirements to enroll in classes and register your SEVIS record.
  • You must report to the University OISS with your I-20, passport, visa, and I-94 card within 10 days of your arrival to the U.S. to have your SEVIS record activated.
    • You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date listed on the I-20.

Apply In the U.S.

Online Filing
Form I-539 is available for online for COS applications. Go to USCIS File Online and Benefits of Filing Online for guidance and more information.
  • You may file your application online if you choose to do so.
  • You will still need to follow the Application Documents for OISS steps above to request a COS I-20 to upload to your online Form I-539 application.
  • Read and follow the online I-539 instructions and questions carefully.
  • DO NOT pay the filing fee and submit the online application before getting the COS I-20.
    • You will need to upload the COS I-20 to your online application.
    • Upload only the supporting documents requested on the online I-539; they will be different from what is listed below.
    • Refer to mail in filing and additional documents below for a list of documents you may need to upload to your online application.
  • If you file online, DO NOT mail in an application as well; use only one filing option.

Mail In Filing
Mail the following documents to USCIS:
  • OPTIONAL: You may attach Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance) from to the first page of the application to request an e-Notification of the receipt of the application at the USCIS Lockbox facility. There is no filing fee for this service.
  • Original letter signed and dated by you explaining why you are applying for a change of status, your intent to return to your country after program completion, and explaining proof of residence in your home country.
    • Include a checklist of the documents you are including in the application.
  • *Money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions in U.S. currency for $455 (this is for the filing fee payment of $370 plus an additional $85 biometric services fee).
    • Use the Fee Calculatoron the date you mail your application to ensure you are paying the correct fee.
      • We recommend you print the USCIS fee calculation page and include it with your application. Make certain the printout includes the date of printing.
    • Make sure you are using the correct edition otherwise USCIS will reject your application. Check "Edition Date" at Form G-1450.
    • Make checks and money orders payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with “Change of Status to F-1” in the memo line.
  • Original Form I-539 available. Read the instructions carefully to fill out the form.
    • Make sure you are using the correct edition otherwise USCIS will reject your application. Check "Edition Date" at Form I-539.
  • Copy of new SEVIS I-20 issued by the OISS at the University. Make sure to sign the original before copying.
  • Receipt for payment of SEVIS I-901 fee (pay the fee after receiving new F-1 I-20).
  • Copy of your letter of admission to the University.
  • Copies of the bio page of the passport (include extension page if applicable), current visa, and I-94 for you and your dependent(s) (if applicable).
  • Original financial documents and/or original graduate assistantship offer letter and/or original scholarship offer letter showing financial support for self and family (if applicable) for amount indicated on the I-20.
    • If sending bank statement(s), provide 3 consecutive months’ worth of statements.
  • Copy(ies) of proof of ties to home country – may include current: telephone/utility bills, mortgage statements, or rental agreements or confirmation of a job, etc.
  • Children changing to their own status: certified copy of your birth certificate. Provide an English translation certified by the translator if it is in another language.
  • If you mail in your application, DO NOT file online as well; use only one filing option.

OPTIONAL: Premium Processing
Students may concurrently file Form I-907 online or by mail for premium processing of their change of status application. With premium processing, USCIS has 30 calendar days to adjudicate (process) the I-539 application after they determine that they have all the necessary documentation to process the I-539 application. If an RFE or RFI is issued, the 30-day period begins again. The fee is $1,750.00; in addition to the Form I-539 filing fee. If you file online, you will submit Form I-907 after submitting your I-539. If you file by mail, you may mail both forms at the same time with two separate payments. Form I-907 MUST be filed in the same format the I-539 is (online or mail).

OISS recommends you consider USCIS I-539 processing times before deciding to file for premium processing.


F-2 to F-1 Additional Document(s)

  • Copy of all your spouse’s F-1 SEVIS I-20s and copy of all your F-2 SEVIS I-20s.
  • Proof of F-1 principal’s status maintenance such as official transcript or employment letter if on post-completion OPT.
♦Full-time study is not authorized while the change of status from F-2 to F-1 application is pending.

J-1/J-2 to F-1 Additional Document(s)

♦Full-time study is authorized while the change of status from J-1/J-2 to F-1 application is pending as long as J-1/J-2 status is maintained.

H-1/H-4 to F-1 Additional Document(s)

  • Copy of H-1B and H-4 Form I-797 Approval Notice.
  • Confirmation of H-1B’s continued employment.
♦Full-time study is authorized while the change of status from H-1/H-4 to F-1 application is pending as long as H-1/H-4 status is maintained.

B-1/B-2 to F-1 Additional Document(s)

  • Letter certifying that the applicant did not intend to study when they entered as B-1/B-2 and explaining why they now want to change status.
    • B-1/B-2 visa holders should not change status within the first two months of entry.
♦Study is not authorized while the change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 application is pending.
  • Copy the entire packet you send to USCIS for your records and send the applicable abovementioned documents to either one of the address below. Request tracking information for your mailing:
    • *U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries
      • USCIS
        PO Box 660166
        Dallas, TX 75266
    • *FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries
      • USCIS
        ATTN: I-539
        2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
        Suite 400
        Lewisville, TX 75067
* Filing fee and delivery addresses subject to change. Check the instructions for Form I-539 to verify the filing fee and delivery address.

After Filing
  • In 2 to 4 weeks USCIS will mail your Form I-797C, Notice of Action (Receipt Notice) with a Receipt Number and Received Date confirming that USCIS has received your OPT application. This does not indicate change of status approval.
    • If you included Form G-1145 with your application packet, you will get an email and/or text message notification with your receipt number within 24 hours of USCIS accepting your application – you will still get a receipt notice in the mail.
    • If you filed online, you will get the Receipt Number and Received Date after submitting your application.
  • Go to Check Case Status on the USCIS website to check the status of your application.
    • You may sign up for an account to receive email updates on your case.
    • After your Receipt Notice is mailed, the status message will remain the same unless USCIS requests more evidence/information or makes a decision on your application.
  • If your change of status application is approved, you will get the Form I-797A, Approval Notice (there will be an I-94 at the bottom of the notice) in the mail.
    • If your application is denied, schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor to discuss your options.

F-1 Approval and SEVIS Registration Top