If you are a newly admitted or enrolled international student with a valid nonimmigrant status at AU, you can obtain F-1 status in one of two ways: by traveling abroad or by applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
(See restrictions under option 2).
Regardless of the way chosen, you must first:
- Obtain an initial I-20 from American University by submitting the Request an I-20 E-form under International Office, available at your iEagle (using your AU credentials): You will need to submit required documents (e.g. new financial documents, new CFIS, and passport bio page).
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee online and print the receipt for your records.
- Once the initial I-20 is issued and the SEVIS fee is paid, carefully decide on the best option below for your change of status request.
- Schedule the F-1 visa interview at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
Please check the Consulate's website for all required forms, fees, and documentation. Tips for a successful visa interview are available here.
- Re-enter the U.S. on F-1 status prior to your I-20 start date.
You may find helpful information on the ISSS website for U.S. Port of Entry arrival.
- Complete the mandatory immigration registration in iEagle as soon as you arrive in Washington, DC as an F-1 student. Failing to complete this step will create an irreversible immigration risk for you.
- Other helpful information
- You can check visa wait times for the consulate here.
- Applying for the F-1 visa in a country outside your citizenship listed on your I-20 and passport is NOT RECOMMENDED because the process will take longer.
Restrictions: a - AU provides this option to students in a nonimmigrant category that permits full-time enrollment. b - Not all nonimmigrant statuses allow change of status to F-1 inside the United States. Please consult with an immigration attorney before selecting this option.
- Follow the USCIS instructions for filing Form I-539.
- Mail Form I-539 and any additional required documents to USCIS. Some applicants are eligible to file Form I-539 online. You may check your eligibility at the USCIS website.
- Complete the mandatory immigration registration in iEagle as soon as your F-1 status has been approved by USCIS. Failing to complete this step will create an irreversible immigration risk for you.
- Other helpful information
- Change of status may take more than a year. You must NOT TRAVEL outside the U.S. while your Change of Status case is pending. USCIS may consider you are abandoning your application if you leave.
- A change of status in the U.S. DOES NOT GRANT YOU A VISA. If you travel outside the U.S., you are required to go to a U.S. Consulate abroad to apply for an F-1 visa.
- You are required to maintain FULL-TIME ENROLLMENT while your Change of Status case is pending. Your F-1 status is effective immediately upon the USCIS approval and you will be in violation of F-1 status if not full time.
- You must be in a valid nonimmigrant status at the time of filing the Change of Status to F-1. ISSS highly recommends working with an immigration attorney to comply with all requirements while your Change of Status case is pending.
- Change of status approval is never guaranteed. If the change of status is denied, please consult with an immigration attorney.
- On-campus employment is only authorized by ISSS after you complete mandatory immigration registration following the USCIS approval of F-1 status.
- Copy of official admission letter from AU
- Copy of proof of financial support no older than 3 months with English translation, if needed
- Copy of signed I-20 from AU. Copy of dependents I-20 (if any)
- Copy of passport biographic page showing expiration date. Copy of dependent's passport (if any)
- Copy of current U.S. visa stamp. Copy of dependent's visa (if any)
- Copy of I-94 entry record. Copy of dependent's I-94 (if any)
- Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status
- Form I-539A Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigration Status (for each dependent, if applicable)
- A letter requesting the change of status and explaining the circumstances, which merit such a change. Include how your full-time study in F-1 status will support your academic and career goals. ISSS advisor must review the letter and advise accordingly
Additional Documents Based on Current Visa Type
A or G to F-1
- Form I-566 Inter Agency Record of Individual Requesting Change/Adjustment to or from ‘A’ or ‘G’ Status (this form must be completed by your employer and the U.S. Department of State)
L or H to F-1
- Copy of I-797 Approval Notice of L/H status. L-2 or H-4 dependents show copy of I-797 Approval Notice of L/H status from the primary visa holder (spouse or parents)
- Original letter from L/H employer verifying that you (or your spouse/parent) are employed on the date you are submitting your application to USCIS
- Copies of the last three pay stubs issued by L/H employer
F-2 to F-1
- Copy of primary's I-20
The information on this page has been prepared for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel.