Office of International Affairs International Student & Scholar Services

Change of Status to F-1 Student

There are two basic ways of becoming an F-1 student in the United States.  The prospective student can leave the United States, thus ending the previous nonimmigrant status, obtain an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status; or the prospective student can remain in the United States and file an application for the change of status with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  In each case, the first step is to gain academic admission to a school in the United States.  As a result of such admission, the school may issue the prospective student a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student;” however, the prospective student and the school must agree on which way of obtaining F-1 status will be used before the I-20 can be issued.  There are many factors that must be considered in choosing which option to follow.  You are advised to talk with an International Student Counselor at 806-742-2974 before taking action.   Persons in B-1/B-2, WB/WT, TN, or H-1B status must be especially careful and should contact an International Student Counselor immediately.  Individuals in WB/WT status are not eligible to change status in the United States.  You may also wish to consult a qualified immigration attorney.  Prospective students who have family members in the U.S. as nonimmigrant dependents must also change the dependents to F-2 or another appropriate status.

Persons who choose to get an F-1 visa for re-entry in F-1 status should follow the general instructions for applying for an F-1 visa.  These persons should also consult the U.S. Department of State (DOS) instructions for “Border Consulates” if they want to apply for the visa in Canada or Mexico rather than in their home country (Border Consulates information is available on the DOS web page).

Persons who choose to apply for a change to F-1 status through DHS should follow the instructions below after consulting with an International Student Counselor.  A change of status through DHS may take several months.  Students must check with an International Student Counselor to determine if, without violating immigration rules, they may register and begin classes before the application is approved, or if they are prohibited under immigration rules from registration and class attendance until after DHS approves the change of status.  In any case the student does not have any of the benefits of F-1 status, such as on-campus employment authorization, until receiving written approval from DHS.  Persons applying for a change of status to F-1 must pay the SEVIS fee.  When approved, the student will be in F-1 status, but will not have an F-1 visa.  An F-1 visa is not necessary unless the student is traveling outside the United States.  A visa is required only when the student is applying for entry into the United States.

Application process:
1) Complete DHS form I-539.  You should use “Office of International Affairs, Box 45004 Texas Tech, Lubbock, TX 79409-5004" as the mailing address in Part 1.
2) Check or money order for $290 payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
3) Proof of health, evacuation and repatriation insurance.
4) Proof of financial responsibility for at least the first academic year.
5) Proof of current nonimmigrant status.
6) Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee.
7) Form I-20 and letter of admission to Texas Tech.
8) Other documents as recommended by an International Student Counselor
9) Submit or request the Office of International Affairs to submit your application to DHS

Revised: 4/2011

Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, 806-742-2974, fax 806-742-1286