A. Change by travel
: You may change your status by departing the United States and re-entering in F-1 status. In order to re-enter the United States in F-1 status, you must have a valid, unexpired F-1 entry visa.
If you do not have an F-1 entry visa or need a new one, you must apply for one at a U.S. consulate. Once you have obtained an F-1 entry visa, you would then enter the United States with your visa and the following:
- Your Form I-20 from Drexel University
- Supporting documents such as copies of your admission letter and your financial documentation
B. Change by application to the USCIS: You may also attempt to change your status by submitting a change of status application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Your application for change of status must be received by USCIS during the period of 30 days before the program start date on your I-20 to no later than 30 days after the start date.
In order to qualify for F-1 student status, you must be admitted to a full-time program of study at Drexel University and obtain a Form I-20 from the International Students and Scholars Services Office (ISSS). To obtain an I-20, student must make an appointment with the ISSS advisor and submit the following documents:
- A completed and signed Form I-539 in black ink
- A check or money order for $290 payable to “USCIS”
- Proof of payment of the $200 SEVIS fee (www.fmjfee.com)
- An original, initial I-20 from Drexel University
- Copies of the financial documents you submitted to Drexel University to support your application for an I-20
- Copy of your letter of admission to Drexel University
- Copy of your I-94 card
- A letter explaining why you are requesting a change of visa status. Be aware that USCIS will deny change of visa status applications if you were not honest about your intentions when you applied for your current visa.
If you are in lawful status and decide to change to F-1 status by applying to the USCIS, you remain in lawful status until you receive your reply from the USCIS. However, you do not have the privileges of student status (working on campus, applying for practical training, etc.) until the change is approved. When USCIS has made a decision, they will send you a Form I-797 Notice of Action. If your application is approved, the I-797 will include a new I-94 card(s) and the I-20 will be returned to you.
Note that the USCIS can take up to 6 months to process a change of status application. If you do not receive a reply within 6 months, contact the ISSS for assistance.
If you attempt to change your status by travel, but overstayed your previous visa, you must apply for a new F-1 visa in your home country; you cannot apply for an F-1 visa in a third country (such as Canada). If you overstayed your visa for more than 180 days, you may be prevented from returning to the United States for 3 years or more. Contact the ISSS for further assistance.
If you have applied for permanent residency or are included in someone else's application for permanent residence, you may be considered ineligible for F-1 status. You should contact an immigration lawyer to discuss this situation.