[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

Dragas Hall with students going to class

Office of Visa & Immigration Service AdvisingChange of Status to F-1

Prospective students are generally encouraged to change to F-1 visa status by applying for a visa stamp outside of the US and entering the US with valid F-1 documentation.

You can also apply for a change to F-1 status without leaving the U.S. if you can prove that you have maintained your current nonimmigrant status and that you qualify for the new status.

NATO Visa Holders have a different process for applications in the U.S. and outside the U.S.

Visa & Immigration Service Advising (VISA) Processing Time: see processing times

Immigration Processing Time: 4-8 months


Application Process Overview

STEP 1: Make an Appointment with a VISA advisor to discuss change of status options and timeline

STEP 2: Submit Request for New I-20 form and financial documentation (required amount is listed on the bottom of the request for new I-20 form)

STEP 3: Once you receive an email that your new I-20 is created, pay $350 SEVIS fee based on the instructions received in the email

STEP 4: Leave the US and apply for an F-1 visa status:

  • Complete Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 - Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application, and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo -You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Schedule an Interview - You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Click HERE for Appointment Wait times.

STEP 5: Return to US and check-in with VISA

USCIS Processing Time: 4-8 months

Application Process Overview

STEP 1: Make an Appointment with a VISA advisor to discuss change of status options and timeline

STEP 2: Submit Request for New I-20 form and financial documentation (required amount is listed on the bottom of the request for new I-20 form)

STEP 3: Once you receive an email that your new I-20 is created, pay $350 SEVIS fee based on the instructions received in the email

STEP 4: submit all documents in the application packet to VISA

STEP 5: Your VISA advisor will return your documents back to you and provide the mailing address for submission to USCIS

STEP 6: Mail your application to USCIS

NOTE: US Citizenship & Immigration Services must receive your application packet within 30 days of the I-20 issuance date, so do not delay in sending the application.

Application Packet List

1. Letter explaining why you'd like to change your status

  • must have the date
  • must be signed in blue ink
  • should be addressed "To Whom It May Concern:"
  • must include your SEVIS U.S. address
  • must include your SEVIS ID number
  • must explain what your current status is and why you'd like to change to F-1 visa status
  • must describe how you will use degree earned at ODU when you return to your home country

2. Completed I-539

Completed I-539 filled out online, printed and signed. Please complete as much as you can. The VISA advisor will review your application.

3. Form G-1450 for credit card payment authorization (or check) for $455

Form G-1450 for credit card payment authorization of $455 ($370 filing fee for I-539 and $85 for biometrics services) OR Check for $455 made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" with your SEVIS ID number

4. Passport copies

Passport copies:

  1. biographical information in passport (usually the page with your photo)

  2. your most recent visa stamp

  3. if on a different page than the one with your photo, the page showing the expiration date of your passport

5. Original Financial Documentation

Original financial documentation to show you have the funding for your degree (see financial documentation)

7. I-901 Receipt

I-901 Receipt ($350 SEVIS Fee), paid after VISA e-mails you your SEVIS ID number

8. Additional documents if you are in a dependent status

If you are in a dependent status (e.g. F-2, J-2, H-4, etc.), you will also need to submit copies of the principal's (e.g. F-1, J-1, H-1, etc.) documents:

  1. all I-20s/DS-2019s

  2. biographical information in passport

  3. Print-out of I-94 arrival record OR original I-94 card

  4. an official, sealed transcript if the principal is a student

  5. a copy of marriage certificate


Application Submission & Follow-Up Correspondence

Applicants are responsible for sending their own application to USCIS. We strongly recommend you use a courier service so you can track your package and confirm its delivery. You will get a receipt from USCIS in the mail two to six weeks after your application is received. This document is very important and also has the number you can use to track your application online. Sometimes, USCIS will send an RFE (Request for Evidence) if there are questions about your paperwork or your application; please keep VISA informed of any case updates. It is important to keep a copy of the RFE and everything you submitted with it as part of your important documents.


Upon Approval of Your Change of Status

NEW STUDENTS @ ODU: If your application is approved, USCIS will send you an I-797 Approval Notice with your new I-94 at the bottom. You will then come to check-in with VISA for the semester in which you will begin your program.

CONTINUING STUDENTS @ ODU: If your application is approved, USCIS will send you an I-797 Approval Notice with your new I-94 at the bottom. Please make an appointment with your VISA advisor as we must issue you a new I-20 and go over the rights and responsibilities of your new status.

Begining Academic Classes

Depending on your visa status, you may not begin degree-seeking coursework until VISA has issued your new, post-approval I-20 or you have done the formal check-in process with VISA. This cannot be done after the end of course registration; you must wait until the start of the next semester in May, August or January.

Travel After Your Status Has Changed

The next time you leave the U.S., you will need an F-1 visa stamp in your passport to return. This means you will need to visit a U.S. consulate overseas for an interview. To be sure you have the proper documents, we recommend you read over the Travel Reminders linked from the main page of our site.

Graduate Assistantships After a Change of Status

It may be that your funding is through a graduate assistantship, but please note that you cannot start work until you have your continued attendance I-20 from VISA. You will need to do employment paperwork with VISA before you begin your employment. You may not "volunteer" your services until the approval of your new status.


If Your Approval is Delayed

While the application is in process, it is necessary to wait for the approval before classes can be started. If your application is approved in the middle of a semester, it is necessary to wait for the next available semester. This also means you must wait to begin an assistantship.

It is important that you not allow the program start date on your I-20 to pass while your application is being processed by USCIS. This means that, at least two weeks before the program start date, you must contact International Admissions to submit your deferral form (new students ONLY). In addition, VISA will give you a date by which you must e-mail the office to notify us of your application's status; if that date is passed without word from you, your change of status may be denied by USCIS.



Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.