Overview -F-1 student status is appropriate if you intend to pursue full-time studies in the United States. If you are currently in the United States as a temporary worker, diplomat, exchange visitor or any other non-immigrant classification EXCEPT Visitor in WT or WB status and need to change to F-1 student status, follow the procedures indicated below.
Eligibility -In general, non-immigrants who are maintaining lawful status may apply for change of status to F-1.
Exceptions - Non-immigrants subject to the Section 212 (e) two-year home residency requirement are ineligible to apply. Those in WT or WB are also ineligible. Those in F-2, B-1 or B-2 status are eligible to apply for a change of status but cannot enroll in classes until the change of status has been approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
1. Qualify for a Certificate of Visa Eligibility (Form I-20) from Evangel
In order to qualify for F-1 student status, you must be admitted to a full-time program of study at Evangel.
2. Take the following steps to change your status
Once you obtain an I-20 from Evangel, you must change to F-1 student status by application to the Department of Homeland Security.
Change by application to the USCIS
You may attempt to change your status by submitting a change of status application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Your application for change of status must be received by USCIS during the period of 30 days before the program start date on your I-20 to no later than 30 days after the start date.
This requires that you assemble the following materials:
a completedForm I-539(also available from the Evangel).
Photocopies of both sides of your current I-94 card and photocopies of the I-94 cards of any dependents who are changing with you.
Your new original Form I-20 from Evangel, signed on the bottom of page 1.
Copies of financial documents.
Photocopy of your passport identification page - do not send your passport to the USCIS.
A bank check, money order, or personal check payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the required $300 fee. The USCIS does not accept cash. This fee includes any dependents who are changing status with you.
Proof of SEVIS fee payment for the required amount of $100. This fee can be paid on-line by completing Form I-901 at https://www.fmjfee.com.
A letter explaining why you are requesting the change of status. This is extremely important: your letter should clearly explain your current status, your plans for study at Evangel, and your longer-term plans as well. Keep in mind that F-1 status is a NON-IMMIGRANT classification. This means that you must indicate, and in certain cases may be required to document, that you continue to maintain ties to your home country--whether in the form of a residence, an expected job offer, or continuing family ties. It is not unusual for the USCIS to request documentation regarding your ties to your home country, and you should be prepared to provide such documentation.
Once completed, mail your application to the USCIS. Photocopy your application and send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over your place of residence and the school you are attending. If you live in the New York area, mail your application to:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT. 05479-9765
When the USCIS receives your application, it will deposit your payment of the fee and mail you a Form I-797 Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number. You can check the status of your application by calling the phone number on the bottom of the I-797 or on-line and entering your case number.
After you submit your change of status application to the USCIS, please inform Evangel immediately in order for us to update your record in SEVIS.
Your obligations while a change of status is being adjudicated are as follows:
Provide Evangel with any documents you receive from USCIS, including the notice of receipt of your application and notice of approval of your change of status when it has been adjudicated
Report any change of address to Evangel within 10 days
If you are in lawful status and decide to change to F-1 status by applying to the USCIS, you remain in lawful status until you receive your reply from the USCIS. However, you do not have the privileges of student status until the change is approved. When USCIS has made a decision, they will send you a Form I-797 Notice of Action. If your application is approved, the I-797 will include a new I-94 card(s) and the I-20 will be returned to you.
Note that the USCIS can take up to 6 months to process a change of status application. If you do not receive a reply within 6 months, contact Evangel for assistance.