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isss@american.edu

ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Contact:
Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Butler Pavilion, Room 410

Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
410 Butler Pavilion
Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041 United States

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Change of Visa Status to F-1

Students enrolled at AU in a valid nonimmigrant status 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.

Please note that changing status within the US generally takes 3-6 months. Please allow ample time to complete this process.

A change of status from B1/B2 to F-1 within the US is generally not advisable. We advise traveling outside of the US and applying for an F-1 visa.

Regardless of the way chosen, you must first:

  1. Obtain an initial I-20 from American University by submitting the Request to Change Status e-Form under the Current Student tab available on your iEagle account. The e-form will require you to attach proof of financial support and the CFIS form. Please see our financial documents page for more information.
  2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee online and print the receipt. You will be asked to enter your SEVIS ID, which is located on the top of your I-20 (Sample: N0009999999). You must keep the receipt for your records.

Option 2: By Application to USCIS in the United States

  1. Complete form I-539 Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status and pay the required filing fee of $370.
    ISSS recommends applying at least 6 months before your current status expires. See below for more information on the I-539 application process.
  2. Mail form I-539 and additional required documents to USCIS.
  3. Complete mandatory immigration registration at the ISSS office. As soon as your F-1 status is approved, please bring your I-797A Approval Notice together with your passport to ISSS to activate your F-1 status in SEVIS.
  4. Facts to Consider
    1. USCIS processing time can vary (4 - 6 months or more)
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. The expiration of your current status must be no longer than 30 days before your F-1 program start date, otherwise the change of status application will be AUTOMATICALLY DENIED. If your current status will expire more than 30 days before your F-1 program start date, you may need to file a bridge application to extend your current status, if eligible. ISSS highly recommends working with an immigration attorney to file your I-539 application.
    5. Change of status approval is never guaranteed. If the change of status is denied, please consult with an immigration attorney.
    6. On campus employment is only available and authorized by ISSS after you have gained F-1 status.

Basic Documents

  • 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 current U.S. visa stamp
  • Copy of I-94 entry record
  • Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status
  • 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