To be eligible for a change of status to F-1, you must have maintained and currently be in a valid immigration status, be admitted to a degree program at UB and have received an I-20. F-1 is a non-immigrant visa category.
A change of status is a change in one’s primary purpose for being in the U.S. There are two ways to change one’s immigration status to F-1.
Changing ones status inside the U.S. is extremely complicated. The entire process can take more than one year. For this and other reasons, ISS will generally recommend changing status via travel rather than inside the U.S.
When considering change of status inside the U.S., it is important to understand the following:
Issuance of a "Change of Status" I-20 does not mean that your immigration status was changed to F-1. F-1 status is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply, you must submit a complete application to USCIS, including a copy of your I-20, Form I-538 and other supporting documents. Your immigration attorney will provide you with guidance on which documents are necessary to submit.
Estimated processing time with the USCIS is approximately 12 months. However, longer processing times are possible. After the USCIS receives your application, it will mail you a Form I-797 Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number. You can check the status of your application online by following the directions on the form.
When you receive a response from the USCIS, you must report the outcome to the Office of International Student Services. If your application is approved, send or bring a photocopy of your I-797 Approval Notice to ISS by visiting our office or emailing email@example.com.
ISS will defer the Program Start Date in SEVIS to a later date if your change of status is not approved by the Program Start Date printed on your I-20. ISS will continue to defer the Program Start Date until your change of status is approved.
If USCIS requests a new I-20 indicating your new Program Start Date, ISS will provide it to you.
You may not travel outside the U.S. while your change of status application is pending. If you depart the U.S. while your application is pending, it will be denied by the USCIS.
We recommend that you review the following resources:
If your current immigration status allows study, then you may attend classes while your change of status application with the USCIS is pending. However, you may not begin an assistantship or engage in employment under F-1 status until after your application is approved by the USCIS or you re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status, if changing status via travel.
If your current status does not allow study (i.e. B-1/B-2 visa holders), then you may not study until your change of status is approved or you re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.
If you are an F-2 visa holder, you may study part-time (fewer than 12 credits) if your academic program permits part-time study. You may begin full-time study only after your change of status to F-1 is approved by the USCIS or after you re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status, if changing status via travel.
The USCIS processing time for change of status applications is currently as long as 12 months. If you are considering changing status inside the U.S., please read the information on this page carefully.
USCIS and DHS announced a final rule that use of federal assistance program could negatively impact Change of Status eligibility. Read the final rule to learn more.