To change your immigration status from H to F-1, please follow the procedure outlined below. Please note the following:
This change of status application is to change your immigration status: IT DOES NOT GRANT YOU A VISA. The next time you travel outside the U.S. you will be required to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to apply for an F-1 visa.
You (or your primary H visa holder) must still be employed by the H visa employer on the date that you file the change of status application. In other words, your H visa status must not have expired at the time of change of status application.
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after change of your status to F-1, you must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year prior to applying for OPT or CPT.
The change of visa status application can be submitted online by using the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS), or by mail. ELIS is designed to streamline the processing of change of status applications and allow applicants to track the status of their applications. ISSS highly encourages students to utilize this online application system, as it may be faster and is easy to use. If you decide to submit your application online through ELIS, there is a processing fee of $290.00.
Steps to Follow:
Obtain an I-20 from American University and prepare the documents listed below before you begin your application. To obtain an I-20 from ISSS, submit proof of financial support (bank statement, scholarship letter, affidavit of support, etc.), and CFIS form. For estimated costs per program of study, please check the cost guides for international students here.
Note: Please have a credit/debit card handy to use for SEVIS fee and online filing fee payments. Scan and save all the documents listed below with the appropriate file name in a PDF format before starting the application process, if you plan to use the ELIS online application system. Keep a photocopy of each item for your records.
Pay SEVIS fee of $200 online at SEVIS I-901 Fee processing website . Remember to print out payment receipt.
Complete I-539 Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status (only if you want to submit your application by mail).
Prepare a letter requesting the change of status and explaining the circumstances, which merit such a change. This could include how your full-time study in F-1 status will support your academic and career goals. An ISSS advisor may review the draft letter for you.
Copy of biographic page of your passport with expiration date.
Copy of U.S. visa stamp.
Copy of signed I-20 from American University.
Copy of I-94 card or if you don’t have paper I-94, a printout from CBP site (include dependent’s I-94, if applicable).
Copy of I-797 "Notice of Action" or approval notice of H visa status (if you are on H-4, your spouse/parent's H1-B approval notice).
Copy of proof of financial support (bank statement, scholarship letter, affidavit of support, etc.) dated within the past three months and an English translation, if needed.
Copy of official admission letter from American University.
Original letter from the H1-B employer verifying that you (or your spouse/or parent, if you are on H-4) are currently employed on the date when you are submitting your application to USCIS.
Copies of that last three pay stubs issued by your H-visa employer (if you are on H-4, your spouse/parent's paystubs).
If you chose to apply online, create an individual online account on ELIS (Electronic Immigration System). To create an ELIS account, please visit USCIS ELIS site:
Click on ELIS (Electronic Immigration System) on the left hand side of the web page, and
For a step by step guide about filing your change of status application on ELIS, please see the ELIS instructions page.
Submit your application after carefully answering the questions in the online application form, uploading the above documents, and making an online payment of $290.00 for filing fee. Make sure to complete your application on a computer connected to a printer so you could print the receipt and a print out of your application.
When you receive your Notice of Action Approval (I-797A) form with the change to F-1 status, please bring the Notice of Action Approval (I-797A) form and Passport to ISSS so that ISSS activate your SEVIS status.
Disclaimer: These materials have been prepared for general information purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel.