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Change of Nonimmigrant Status

Changing to F-1 Within the U.S.

The 1-539 is a personal application form and, therefore, has no direct connection, legal or otherwise, to Wake Forest University. All of the information included within this document is merely provided as guidance for assisting you with the application process and should in no way be construed as legal advice. Please also bear in mind that immigration laws change and different situations apply to different individuals. The Wake Forest Center for Global Programs and Studies cannot be held responsible for any errant or outdated information that may be contained within this web page. Please consult with I-539 instructions prior to sending your application to USCIS to ensure you have all the proper documentation. Any issues that arise as a result of a request for a “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” are personal issues that are to be handled between theĀ·individual and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If assistance with the application process is required, please seek legal counsel.

Important Points to Remember

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not grant a change of status to a nonimmigrant who is residing in the US in an invalid immigration status. If you are out of status, you will either need to apply for a reinstatement from the USCIS or achieve the desired status by making an exit and reentry to the U.S.

A nonimmigrant in B-1, B-2 or F-2 status is not allowed to attend classes until the USCIS has approved the “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” to F-l.

The following nonimmigrant categories are not eligible to change to F-l status in the US: M-l students; C, D or K nonimmigrants; J-l physicians admitted to receive graduate medical training; J nonimmigrants who are subject to the 2-year home residency requirement (212( e)) and have not received a waiver of that requirement or a “no objection” letter from the Department of State; WT or WB visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program.

The USCIS will sometimes approve a change of status from B-2 or B-1 if it can be proven that the intent to study arose after the nonimmigrant entered the U.S. USCIS Inspection Officials are instructed to annotate the 1-94 card of any nonimmigrant who expresses a desire to study in the U.S. with “Prospective Student” at the time he/she makes an initial entry to the country. If it is established that the nonimmigrant had intent to study in the U.S. and did not communicate this to the inspecting officer, chances are the request for a “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” will be denied.

Please be advised that a nonimmigrant that changes from the B-l/B-2 category to F1 status without leaving the U.S. will have a difficult time obtaining an F-l visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad if he/she wishes to travel outside of the U.S. The reason for this is that the Department of State will claim the nonimmigrant misrepresented his/her “temporary” intentions by coming to the U.S. in B visa status and requesting a change to the F category. The Center for Global Programs and Studies strongly discourages any nonimmigrant from requesting a change of status from B-l/B-2 within the borders of the U.S.

No F-l benefits are available to those nonimmigrants waiting for an application for a “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” to be adjudicated. It is currently taking the USCIS approximately 60-90 days to complete a request. You should keep this in mind if you will be accepting an assistantship at Wake Forest University that involves employment. A nonimmigrant without the proper work authorization from the USCIS is not allowed to pursue employment while waiting for a change of status to be approved.

Required Documents/Evidence

  1. Form 1-539 “Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status”
  2. Form 1-539 $290.00 filing fee made payable to the “Department of Homeland Security”
  3. Copy of SEVIS 1-901 Fee Receipt Notice: All nonimmigrants who request a change of status to the F -1 category are required to pay a one-time SEVIS fee; for detailed information on how to pay the fee, please visit
  4. Original Form 1-94 card
    Note: Although the Form 1-539 instructions explicitly instruct the nonimmigrant to include the original 1-94 with the application, past applicants have included a copy of both sides of the 1-94 without experiencing any problems. If you do not feel comfortable submitting your original 1-94, you may want to try this approach.
  5. Original Form 1-20 issued by Wake Forest University
  6. Photocopies of relevant documents that provide proof of lawful nonimmigrant status (Le., 1-20 for F-2 dependent, 1-797 for H-4 dependent, visa stamp, passport ID pages, etc.)
  7. If you are currently residing in the U.S. as the dependent of another nonimmigrant, you will need to include copies of documents that provide proof of the lawful nonimmigrant status of the principle visa holder; Although it is not required per USCIS regulations, you may also want to include a copy of any legal documentation that verifies your relationship to the principal visa holder (Le. copy of marriage license, etc.).
  8. Photocopy of letter of admission from Wake Forest University
  9. Photocopies of documents that establish financial support: These may take the form of bank statements, scholarship letters, financial account holdings, stocks, bonds, etc.
  10. Dependent family member documentation: If you have dependent family members under the age of 18 who are also requesting a change of nonimmigrant status, their information will need to be included in Form 1-539. All dependent family members will receive SEVIS-issued 1-20 forms. These, along with copies of documents that establish current immigration status (Le. 1-94 card, passport ID page, current 1-20IDS2019, etc.), should be included in the application packet.
  11. The prospective student requesting the change of nonimmigrant status should include a letter that provides a brief explanation to the USCIS of why the’ change is necessary. Although this is not required per the regulations, it may prove helpful in convincing the adjudicating officer that a “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” is warranted.

Mailing Address

Please consult the 1-539 instructions for the mailing address of the USCIS Service Center.

Receipt Notice

Approximately 10-14 days after submitting your application, you will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS. This is the only proof that your application was properly received by the USCIS, and it should be kept in a safe place. The receipt number, located in the upper left hand comer of the notice, can be used to check on the status of your application on the following web site:



Click to Access USCIS Website Form I-539