Change of Status

ISS can help you submit a change of status application to an F-1 visa.  Please understand that changing status from one visa to another can be complex.  If you have a complex immigration case, we recommend you to consult with an immigration lawyer.  We do not send your change of status application to USCIS for you, but we can help you gather all of your documents.

Please look at the Change of Status Application and schedule an appointment with International Student Services.

After you have been accepted to Northwest University, we need the following:

  • Initial I-20 – change of status requested
  • Completed USCIS Form I-539.  Make sure this is the most recent form!
  • I-901 receipt.  Pay the required DHS SEVIS Fee (I-901) and retain the receipt to mail with your change of status application.
  • Check for $370 USD made payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
  • Personal statement, written to the USCIS adjudication officer, in which you explain why you are requesting a change to F-1 status
  • Bank statement showing sufficient funds that matches the information in item 8 on your I-20
  • Photocopies of all your immigration documents, passport biographical pages, visa stamp, etc.
  • I-94
  • Photocopies of all immigration documents of the person from whom your current status is derived (i.e. your spouse or parent), including the I-94 (front & back), passport biographical pages, visa stamp, I-20, funding and transcript or job letter and recent pay-stubs, if applicable, etc.
  • Copy of your marriage license, birth certificate, or other proof of relation to this person
  • Admission letter to Northwest University

Mailing Your Application/Petition:
USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10129
Laguna Niguel, CA  92607-1053

Be sure to include the appropriate P.O. Box number on the shipping label too.

We urge you to COPY ALL DOCUMENTS AND FORMS before mailing your application to USCIS.

You will receive a receipt with a “WAC or LIN” file number in a couple of weeks, and usually, a notice of approval in 2-4 months.

You MUST notify the International Student Services Office when you receive your Change of Status approval.


1. After mailing your documents, USCIS should send you an I-797C receipt notice within 2-3 weeks in the mail.  This receipt lets you know that they have received your package and are processing it.  If you do not get a notice, please contact ISS.  On this document is a receipt number which you can use to track your application at

2. Approval takes approximately 4+ months depending on what visa you are converting from.  This is a long process.  Remember that when you file for change of status, you cannot leave the country until it is approved.

3. While you are waiting, USCIS may send you a request for evidence (RFE) document.  If you get an RFE, please contact the ISS department so we can help you.  This RFE will ask you to submit additional documentation in order to approve your application.  Do not worry if you get this document.

4. When your change of status is approved, you will receive an I-797A Notice of Action document in the mail.  This document is important because it is now your current I-94 and is your official evidence that you have changed visas.  After your application is approved, we will be able to register you as an active F-1 student in SEVIS.  Remember that at this point if you leave the country, you will need to renew your visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Unique Change of Status Issues

1. B-1/2 visas – you cannot begin studying until your change of status application is approved.

2. Your current visa is expiring soon – if your visa is expiring sooner than 30 days before your program start date, you will need to submit a second form I-539 and additional $370 fee to extend your current visa.  For example, your current visa is expiring on July 1st, but your program doesn’t start until August 28th.  This is a difference of 58 days, which is more than the maximum of 30 days.

3. If you have other immigration applications on file, please let us know.  These could delay your change of status to an F-1 visa.

4. Please understand the F-1 visa regulations.  While your change of status application is pending, you are required to maintain the regulations of your current valid visa.  When your change is approved, you must take note of the differences in regulations pertaining to your visa, such as employment.

5. You cannot leave the country until it is approved!  After it is approved, if you do leave the country, you will need to renew your visa.