Change of Immigration Status

What is a Change of Status?

A change of status is a legal method for a person in a nonimmigrant category within the United States (U.S.) to change to F-1 status. There are two methods to achieve change of status:

  • Traveling outside the U.S. to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate, or
  • Submitting an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from within the U.S.

In either case, a student must first apply to BMCC and be accepted to BMCC before attempting to convert to F-1 status.


Change by travel

You may change your status by departing the U.S. and re-entering in F-1 status. In order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status, you must receive an I-20 from BMCC and apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country or country of residence.

Once you obtain your F-1 visa, you will enter the United States with your F-1 visa and present the following documents upon entering the U.S.:

  • Your BMCC I-20
  • Supporting documents such as your BMCC admission letter or proof of registration for the upcoming semester.
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee (I-901) payment

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspector at your port of entry will inspect your F-1 visa, I-20 and supporting documents and will admit you into the US in F-1 status by listing your I-94 information as “F-1 D/S” (F-1 is your status, D/S stands for duration of status).


Change by application to the USCIS

A second option is to change your immigration status by submitting a change of status application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This requires that you assemble and submit the following documents to BMCC’s International Student Service Office (ISSO) and request a change of status Form I-20:

  • Completed BMCC I-20 application
  • Completed BMCC Change of Status Declaration Form
  • Original bank statements, not older than 3 months, written in English.
  • Proof of income documentation from financial sponsor, which can be an employment letter from your sponsor’s employer on letterhead showing their annual salary or a copy of your sponsor’s latest tax return (if applicable).
  • Copy of passport (identification page)
  • Copy of current visa and I-94 information

Once you have submitted the above documents and received a change of status Form I-20 from BMCC, you will then need to submit a change of status application to USCIS and wait for change of status approval.

We highly encourage you to consult an immigration attorney during this process. While we will make every effort to assist you in your transition to school, BMCC’s International Student Services staff are not U.S. immigration policy experts. We can provide documents you need, but we cannot advise you on USCIS processes.

When filing a change of status application with USCIS, change of status applicants must understand that the ISSO does not assume any responsibility or liability in proper filing and does not guarantee or promise any successful outcome.


Special Considerations

If you are in lawful status and decide to apply for a change of status from within the U.S., you must remain in lawful status until you receive approval from USCIS.

On February 6, 2018, USCIS revised their change of status instructions and currently state that an applicant applying for a change to F-1 student status within the U.S., whose current nonimmigrant status will end prior to receiving change of status approval from USCIS, must file a separate “bridge” application to extend their nonimmigrant status while their F-1 change of status request is pending.

Due to this change in USCIS policy, BMCC’s Designated School Officials (DSOs) will provide qualified applicants with change of status I-20s. However, since guidance on bridge extensions is outside of the ISSO’s expertise, it is highly recommended that change of status applicants work with an experienced immigration lawyer after receiving their BMCC change of status I-20.

Also please note that USCIS change of status processing times are currently between 6.5 and 8.5 months. Learn more