Change of Status to F-1

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:

  1. Obtain an initial I-20 from American University
    • Newly Admitted Student: You must submit all the required documents to your admission office following their instructions. Your admission office will then send ISSS an official request to issue your initial I-20. When completing your CFIS form, please make sure to indicate in Part II that you are in the U.S. on a different visa type. 
    • Currently Enrolled Students: Submit the Request an I-20 E-form under International Office in iEagle (using your AU credentials). You will need to submit required documents (e.g. new financial documents, new , and passport bio page).  
  2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee online and print the receipt for your records.
  3. 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.

Option 2: By Application to USCIS inside the U.S.

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. 

  1. Follow the USCIS instructions for filing Form I-539
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Other helpful information
    1. 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.
    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 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. 
    4. 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. 
    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 authorized by ISSS after you complete mandatory immigration registration following the USCIS approval of 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 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.