Change of Status within the United States

Change of Status Process Overview

  1. Apply for admission to the program for which you intend to pursue full-time study.
    • Specify that you would like to change your status from within the U.S. or by travel
  2. Receive admission to UA Little Rock or the Intensive English Language Program.
  3. Receive I-20 for change of status.
  4. Complete I-539 and gather supporting documentation (instructions below).
    • You may schedule an appointment with an International Advisor to review your complete packet.
  5. Submit your Change of Status application to USCIS.
  6. Once approved, notify International Student Services with copies of your approval notice.

 Change of Status Application Packet

  • A letter explaining why you are requesting the Change of Status
    • This is extremely important. You must include your current status, your plans for study at UALR and your long-term plans. Keep in mind that F-1 status is a non-immigrant classification so you should demonstrate strong ties to home wherever possible.
  • Form I-539
    • It is best to type your application, but be sure to sign it.
    • Include your name as it appears on your passport and I-20.
    • Include an address where you will be able to collect mail for the next 6 months.
    • Part 3, question 1 should be the program end date on your I-20.
    • If you are completing the application yourself in English, you will skip Parts 6 and 7.
    • Complete page 5 only if you have dependents applying for F-2 status.
  • Form G-1145
    • This form is optional and allows you to receive a receipt of your application and begin tracking the status of your application online.
  • Copies of immigration documents (Do not send your original immigration documents)
    • Biographical page of passport
    • Visa
    • I-94 (printed from if you arrived after April 2013)
    • Any previous approval notices
  • Copies of financial documents
    • Bank statements of or exceeding the amount required for your I-20.
    • Statements should be translated if not in English.
    • Include a currency conversion if total is in USD.
  • Check or Money Order for $370
    • Payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Proof of  $350 SEVIS fee payment (I-901 fee)

Make a copy of your packet for your records. You may schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor to review your application. When you are ready, mail the packet to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.

U.S. Postal Service (USCIS) only
USCIS PO Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

Courier Service (FedEx or UPS)
USCIS Attn: I-539
2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400
While COS is Pending
Lewisville, TX 75067

If your COS is not approved by your program start date, you must request a deferral of your I-20. If your current immigration status permits study, you may begin studying in the desired semester. If your current status does not permit you to study, you must apply for admission for the next semester.

You are responsible for maintaining the regulations of your current immigration status while your COS is pending. If your status will expire, you may want to apply to extend your current status to cover you while you are waiting for the COS to be approved.

Once Change of Status is Approved

You will receive written notice from USCIS showing that your status has been approved. Bring this documentation along with any other notices, to International Student Services. The notice will include the start date of your F-1 status. It will usually be within 30 days of your program start date on your I-20.

The next time you leave the country, you will be required to receive an F-1 visa before you may re-enter the United States. If desired, you may also stay in the U.S. for the duration of your studies without leaving the U.S. or changing your visa.

Special Considerations

If you are in lawful status and decide to change to F-1 status within the U.S., you remain in lawful status until you receive your reply from USCIS. However, you do not have the privileges of student status (working on campus, applying for practical training, etc.) until the change is approved.

Note that USCIS can take up to 6 months to process a change of status application. If you do not receive a reply within 6 months, contact International Student Services for assistance.

If you attempt to change your status by travel, but overstayed your previous visa, you must apply for a new F-1 visa in your home country; you cannot apply for an F-1 visa in a third country (such as Canada). If you overstayed your visa for more than 180 days, you may be prevented from returning to the Untied States form 3 years or more.

If you have applied for permanent residency or are included in someone else’s application for permanent residence, you may be considered ineligible for F-1 status. Contact an immigration lawyer to discuss this situation.