There are two options for an individual to change immigration status. An application for a change of status can be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while you remain in the U.S. or  you can travel back home or outside the U.S. to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate.

A change of status application usually takes between 3-5 months to be processed by USCIS. After you are approved for the change of status, the next time you travel out of the U.S., you will have to go to a U.S. Consulate to apply for the F-1 visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.

Eligibility for a Change of Status

To be eligible for a change of status to F-1, you must be admitted to a degree program at Drew University and have received a Form I-20 from Drew for the new program.

Where to file the Change of Status Application

You can choose to file using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) or you can file a paper application.  If filing with ELIS, you will upload the supporting documents listed below (except the Form I-539) and payment will be made online with a credit card or bank account.  Follow this link to the E-Filing Form I-539 using USCIS ELIS to get started.

If using ELIS, please review these guidelines:

  • Collect and scan all supporting documents before starting the application process.
  •  Save a PDF copy of the completed application before submitting the case to USCIS ELIS.
  • Email the PDF copy to the ISSS for review before submitting the application.

If you file on paper, the application and mailing instructions are below.

Forms & Supporting Documents for a Change of Status Application to USCIS

  • A receipt showing that you have paid the “SEVIS fee” which you can print when you pay the fee on line at: www.FMJfee.com.
  • Fee (currently $290): check or money order made payable to USCIS; write your I-94 number, name (if not already printed on your check), and the type of application you are requesting on the face of your check or money order.
  • A letter from you requesting the change of status and explaining your circumstances, academic goals, and future plans for when you return to your home country.
  • Completed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. The application must include a copy of the Form I-20 (please sign the I-20) and I-94 record, and photocopies of the personal information page of passport and current visa stamp (if one is in the passport). You should also include photocopies of your spouse’s/parent’s Immigration documents (I-20, visa, passport).
  • Financial documentation (include personal or sponsor bank statement, affidavit of support and a copy of scholarship award letters).
  • You should have a photocopy of your entire application and supporting documents for your records before sending them to the USCIS.
  • When you receive a response from USCIS, please report the outcome to ISSS. Send or bring a photocopy of your I-797 Approval Notice to ISSS in the University Commons, Room 110.

Application Mailing Instructions

Mail your completed application to the Dallas Lockbox. You should use a reliable express mail/courier service or certified mail with the USPS.

For express courier deliveries (Fed Ex or UPS) use the following address:

USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

For regular U.S. Mail (certified) use the following address:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

Status While Application Is Pending

You are not allowed to begin your studies at Drew while your F-2 to F-1 change of status application is pending with USCIS. You may not engage in employment of any kind until your change of status to F-1 student has been approved.