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.
We will outline both options below; however, due to extremely long processing times with the USCIS and increased scrutiny of change of status applications, ISS generally recommends changing status via travel.
If you are applying for admission to UB and requesting to change your change of status via travel prior to the start of your first semester, then the Office of International Admissions will issue your I-20. As a part of the admissions process, you will receive instructions explaining which documents you need to provide in order to receive an I-20.
If you are already admitted to UB and are currently enrolled as a student, ISS will need the following to issue an "initial" I-20:
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.
Important! 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.