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International Student Services

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Change of Visa Status

General Guidelines for a Change of Status (I-539) Application

Due to the complicated legal nature of I-539 applications, UofSC International Student Services does not advise on changes of immigration status. This page is designed to provide you with general information about the change of status process. It should not be taken as legal guidance. Always consult the USCIS website and their instructions for the I-539 as your primary resource. If you need assistance preparing your application, you should seek the counsel of a qualified immigration attorney who is a member of AILA.

If you would like to change your status through travel, please see our New Visas and Visa Renewals section.

Helpful U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Links

Steps to Applying for a Change of Status:

  1. Obtain I-20 from ISS. Complete 2 forms to obtain your I-20: the Certificate of Eligibility Request Form and the I-20 Request Form. Both are located in the ISS Forms Library.
    • To receive a new I-20, federal immigration regulations require that you financially certify. This means you must show that you or your family has the amount of "liquid funding" available for one academic year of study. For more information about the financial certification process, see this section of our website.
    • You are required to show financial certification to obtain a new I-20. You will have the option to upload your financial certification when completing the I-20 Request Form. If you have questions about the financial certification, please email iss@sc.edu.
    • If you currently pay in-state tuition at USC, then you need to obtain a letter from the Office of Legal Residency attesting that you do pay in-state tuition. You can email the Office of Legal Residency to request this letter.
  2. Pay SEVIS Fee. After you pick up your I-20 from the front desk of ISS, pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
  3.  Prepare your I-539 and supporting documents.  You should always consult USCIS and/or an immigration attorney for official advising on the change of status application. ISS does not review change of status applications. If you wish to have your change of status application reviewed, you should seek the counsel of a qualified immigration attorney who is a member of AILA.
  4. Mail I-539 application to USCIS. See the "Where to File" section of the USCIS I-539 webpage. ALWAYS keep a copy (electronic or paper) of your entire change of status application so that you can refer to it if necessary.

General Guidelines for Applying for your Change of Status

The considerations below are not intended to be legal advice. These are only general considerations.

Consider the following documents as you prepare your application.
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Acceptance Letter from USC
  • Copy of F-2 I-20
  • Copy of your passport photo page, F-2 visa, I-94
  • Copy of F-1's I-20, passport, F-1 visa, I-94
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form)
Consider the following documents as you prepare your application. It is recommended that you apply for a change of status at least 1 year prior to your 21st birthday. 
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy of H-4 visa, if applicable
  • Copy of H-4 I-94 and I-797 approval notice
  • Copy  of H-1B visa, if applicable
  • Copy of I-797 (approval notice for H-1B status)
  • Copy of H-1B’s I-94
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form). Note that you will need to financially certify for out-of-state tuition unless you receive in writing certification from the Office of Legal Residency that confirms you will be allowed to pay in-state tuition.

**Note that J-2 visa holders are not eligible to apply for a change of status in the U.S. unless they first obtain a 212(e) home residency requirement waiver.**

Consider the following documents as you prepare your application.

  • Proof of 212(e) waiver
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Acceptance Letter
  • Copy of J-2 DS-2019
  • Copy of your passport photo page, J-2 visa, I-94
  • Copy of J-1's DS-2019, passport photo page, J-1 visa, I-94
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form)
Consider the following documents as you prepare your application.
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of I-797 (approval notice for H1B status)
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy  of H-1B visa if you have one
  • Copy of I-94
  • I-901 Receipt of SEVIS Fee payment
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-1 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form). Note that you will need to financially certify for out-of-state tuition unless you receive in writing certification from the Office of Legal Residency that confirms you will be allowed to pay in-state tuition.
Consider the following documents as you prepare your application.
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of your passport photo page, F-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of Primary's F-1 I-20
  • Copy of Primary's passport photo page, F-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of proof of relationship (i.e. marriage certificate)
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of new F-2 I-20 (request this using the I-20 Request Form)

**Note that J-1 visa holders are not eligible to apply for a change of status in the U.S. unless they first obtain a 212(e) home residency requirement waiver.**

Consider the following documents as you prepare your application.

  • Proof of 212(e) waiver
  • Original I-539 form
  • Original G-1145 form [pdf]
  • Copy of your J-1 DS-2019
  • Copy of your passport photo page, J-1 visa, and I-94
  • Copy of Primary's J-1 DS-2019
  • Copy of Primary's passport photo page, J-1 visa, & I-94
  • Copy of proof of relationship (i.e. marriage certificate)
  • Financial certification [pdf]
  • Check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the appropriate amount. See "Filing Fee" on the USCIS I-539 page. Note that you need to pay the filing fee and any related biometric fees.
  • Personal statement from you explaining why you want to change your status
  • Copy of your new J-2 DS-2019 (this DS-2019 will need to be created by your program sponsor.)

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