Change of Immigration Status
What is a “Change of Status”?
A change of status is an authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be in the United States for a new reason to engage in a new activity for new period of time. This authorization comes in the form of a new I-94.
IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS NOT A VISA. Even if you do a change of status application with USCIS and it is approved, you still need to get the appropriate VISA for your status!
The Global Education Office advises students wanting to change their status to obtain the appropriate Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or DS-2019) and to travel back to their home country to apply and obtain their F-1 visa. Getting the appropriate visa at home is always preferable to doing a change of status application in the United States!
Who Is NOT Eligible for a Change of Status?
You are not eligible for a change of immigration status if you hold any of the following:
- C,D,K,M-1,N,S,WT, or WB status.
- J visa with a two-year home residency requirement
- A or G status and do not have a State Department’s recommendation
- B-2, F-2, or M-2 status and have studied in the United States. Exceptions to the rule:
- You hold F-2 or M-2 status and attended elementary or secondary school in the United States
- You hold F-2 or M-2 status and your study was recreational and incidental to study
- B status and you entered the United States with the intent to go to school
Who Is Eligible for a Change of Status?
You are eligible for a change of immigration status under the following conditions:
- You are actively maintaining your status, and this lawful status does not expire more than 30 days before the program start date.
- You have not filed (or have a pending application) for lawful permanent residence in the United States.
- If you are a B visitor, or if you have studied with an F-2 or M-2, you have proof that this study was recreational (i.e. study in an English language program, a pottery class at the local community college, etc.)
- You have a permanent residence abroad
- You have plans to return to your home country after completing your education in the United States
- Form I-539
- Form G-1145
- Application to Change to F-1 Student Status (not available online)
- Evidence of proof of current status
- Check or money order for $290 USD payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Original Form I-94 or copy of passport stamp
- Proof of funding for the intended program of study
- SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Initial Attendance Form I-20
- SUNY Plattsburgh acceptance letter
- Cover letter from your International Student Advisor
- F-2/B-1/B-2 visa holders must have their change of status applications approved before the first day of classes.
- F-2/B-1/B-2 may not study or work until after their change of status applications have been approved.
How to Change Your Status
Step One: Consult with your International Student Advisor
- Contact your International Student Advisor and make an appointment to determine your eligibility
- If you are eligible, you will be given an Application to Change to F-1 Student Status along with information on what documents to assemble
Step Two: Apply to SUNY Plattsburgh through the International Admissions Office
- Apply as an international student at SUNY Plattsburgh
- Obtain an acceptance letter from SUNY Plattsburgh
- Make sure that you are pre-registered for courses for the appropriate semester
- IMPORTANT NOTE: You will not be given an Form I-20 until after Step Three in this process
Step Three: Document Assembly
- Complete the Application to Change to F-1 Student Status
- Complete Forms I-539 (Example) and G-1145
- Make copies of your passport photo page
- Make sure that you have the original I-94 card (if not, a copy of stamp in your passport)
- Obtain financial documents to show that you have proof of funding for the intended program of study
- Gather together evidence of your status (i.e. time frame with places you have visited or business activities)
- Copy of your SUNY Plattsburgh acceptance letter
Step Three: Application Review with International Student Advisor
- Make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to go through your documents
- If all the documents are in order, the International Student Advisor will issue you with an “Initial Attendance” Form I-20 and give you a cover letter which should accompany your application
- The International Student Advisor will give you instructions on how to pay your SEVIS fee and how to file the completed application
Step Four: Pay the SEVIS fee and submit your application to USCIS
- Pay your SEVIS fee and include a copy of the SEVIS fee receipt with your application
- Submit your application on-ine or by mail to USCIS
- Wait for USCIS response or approval
Step Five: Approval from USCIS/Check in with International Student Advisor
- If you are approved by USCIS for a change of status, please come into the GEO Office and have the International Student Advisor photocopy your passport, new I-94 card, and Form I-20
- The International Student Advisor will verify that you are enrolled full-time (12 credits) and will register you in SEVIS
- There will be a note in your file that you still do not have an F-1 visa
Note: When you travel outside the United States, you will need to apply for and obtain your F-1 student visa in your home country BEFORE you can re-enter the United States.