Change of Visa Status to F-1

Current GT students who would like to change their visa status to F-1 student should read the following information carefully and need to consult with a qualified immigration attorney in addition to consulting with OIE. While OIE can share guidance about the process, OIE cannot advise on which method a student should use in order to obtain F-1 status. Please review our advising page to learn how to connect with an OIE advisor. 


There are two ways to change visa status to F-1. They are:

Option 1: Travel and Re-entry
This process involves obtaining an I-20 form from OIE and leaving the United States to apply for an F-1 visa at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Students will then re-enter the U.S. using their I-20 form and F-1 student visa to be granted entry in F-1 status. Things to consider for the travel and re-entry option:

  • After receiving the I-20 form from OIE, you will be required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee using the SEVIS ID on your new I-20 form and prior to attending your F-1 visa appointment.

  • Information about applying for an F-1 visa can be found on OIE’s website, but please research your local consulate as different consulates can have different procedures and/or requirements. Note, you cannot apply for an F-1 visa while physically located inside the U.S.

  • An advantage of changing your status via travel and re-entry is that typically one can receive an F-1 visa more quickly than if you apply for a change of status within the U.S. with USCIS, however this is not guaranteed.

Option 2: Apply for Change of Status within the U.S. with USCIS
If you would like to apply for a change of status within the U.S., you will be required to submit a Form I-539 and all supporting documentation to USCIS. While this option allows you to stay in the U.S. while the application is pending, processing takes anywhere from 2-24 months. To find the most up-to-date USCIS processing times, please review their Case Processing Times websiteThings to consider for the Change of Status application option with USCIS:

  • OIE staff are not licensed to practice law and cannot provide legal counsel on questions related to filing the I-539, nor can OIE assist with the preparation of the I-539. Students needing assistance with preparation of the Form I-539 or with questions beyond the general information provided by OIE are encouraged to consult with a qualified immigration attorney.

  • You will not be eligible for F-1 student visa benefits, including F-1 on-campus work authorization and practical training until USCIS approves your change of status application.

  • After receiving the I-20 form from OIE to file your Change of Status application with USCIS, you will be required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee using the SEVIS ID on your new I-20 form prior to filing your application with USCIS.

  • Please note that if you depart the U.S. after filing the Change of Status application with USCIS, your application will automatically be rejected by USCIS as they consider this an abandoned application. The I-20 form and F-1 record connected to this Change of Status application will also automatically be terminated. If you are considering departing the U.S. after filing your Change of Status application with USCIS, you are encouraged to consult with OIE and a qualified immigration attorney to ensure you are well informed of the risks and understand your options moving forward prior to traveling. 

  • If you change your status in the U.S. using the Form I-539, you will be required to request a visa stamp from an embassy or consulate the next time you travel outside the U.S. This F-1 visa stamp will be required before you can attempt to re-enter the U.S.

  • While your case is pending with USCIS, you will need to maintain communication with OIE to ensure your I-20 form is updated. You will need to check in at the beginning of each term as well as make OIE aware if your Change of Status application is approved or denied. Failure to keep OIE updated of your case may result in the automatic cancellation of the F-1 immigration record and could lead to a denial of the Change of Status.


International Student Check-In

Prior to enrolling in classes, you will be required to complete International Student Check-In with OIE. Information about International Student Check-In can be found on OIE’s website: /isss-check-in