Checklist for Change of Status Option
Below are suggestions for the change of status process with USCIS. Ultimately, USCIS will determine if you are eligible for a change of status based on the review of your application materials. An ISSS advisor cannot review or assist in completing Form I-539 on your behalf. This is your personal application. USCIS processing time is unpredictable. It is currently taking between 5-8 months or even longer for applications to be adjudicated.
Important-Bridge Application. You need to maintain your current status up to 30 days before your I-20 program start date. If your current status will expire, you must find a way to remain in the U.S. You may need to file a separate Form I-539 “bridge the gap” application to extend your current status or change to another nonimmigrant status. In addition to your Form I-539 to change to F-1 status we recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer if you need to file a bridge application. ISSS will be unable to assist you with the bridge application.
Gather all documentation for the COS application
- Complete and signed Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Make sure you are using the most current version of the form. It’s important to review the Form I-539 instructions. If applying with dependents, include Form I-539A Supplemental Information, signed by each dependent. Each dependent must pay for the biometrics services.
- Form I-539 filing fee. Pay the fees with a separate money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. Make a check payable to ‘U.S. Department of Homeland Security.’
- Optional: Complete Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance.
- A cover letter or letter of explanation with your reason(s) for a change of status.
- Photocopy of SJSU Form I-20 (all three pages) issued for ‘Change of Status Requested,’ signed and dated.
- SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt. Pay the SEVIS fee and print out the online receipt.
- Photocopy of your passport, current visa page, and your most recent Form I-94 (paper or electronic record).
- Proof of financial support: Use the same financial documents submitted to ISSS.
Note: USCIS may want additional proof of finances. ISSS recommends you provide at least 3-4 consecutive monthly bank statements with similar amounts to the required funding.
- If currently in dependent status (e.g., F-2, H-4, L-2), also submit the following:
- Photocopy of the primary visa holder’s (F-1, H-1B, L-1 ) immigration documents: passport, current visa page, most recent I-94 record and/or USCIS Form I-797A Notice of Action.
- If a primary visa holder is working (e.g., H-1B or OPT/STEM OPT) submit his/her employment verification Letter, W2, or 3-4 months of paystubs.
- Photocopy of your admission letter. If currently enrolled at SJSU, include a copy
of your class schedule and/ or official academic transcript.
File your application by mail to the appropriate USCIS service center; see filing address. We recommend you make a copy of your entire application for your records.
After you have submitted your application:
- Keep the paper filing receipt (Form I-797C Notice of Action) that will be mailed to you.
- Check the application status by using USCIS’ Case Status Online.
- Enter the receipt or case number.
- Attend your biometric service appointment. According to USCIS, you will receive a notice to schedule an appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC) close to your address.
Report a change of status approval, delay, or denial to ISSS
- If your COS application is approved, provide a copy of the COS approval notice (Form I-797A Notice of Action) to ISSS.
- You will receive a new I-94 card indicating a change of status to F-1 ‘D/S,’ but this does not give you a new F-1 visa in your passport. If you depart the U.S., you will need to apply for an F-1 visa to return in F-1 student status.
- Inform ISSS if USCIS has not adjudicated your change of status request within 30 days of the program start date on your I-20. We will defer the I-20 program start date to the next available semester. You will need to maintain your current status up to the date, which is 30 days before your new program start date. If you already filed a Form I-539 to bridge the original gap, you may need to file another Form I-539 to bridge the new gap.
- Inform ISSS if your COS application is denied.
If you have obtained a COS to F-1 approval, attend Global Spartan Welcome. Complete New Student Document Check-in. If you have already completed the ISSS check-in, submit a copy of your approval notice to ISSS.