Changing to F-1 Student Status

Change to F-1 Student Status is only applicable to foreign nationals who have been admitted to a full-time course of study at Rutgers Newark, are presently in the United States in a legal nonimmigrant status (such as H-4, A-1, or L-2 status) and obtained a Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. 

ATTENTION: B-1/B-2 Visitors AND Visitors on Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Individuals currently in the U.S. in B-1/B-2 visitor status are not allowed to pursue a course of study; doing so is considered a violation of immigration status. If they wish to study, they must obtain F-1 student status through one of the two ways  explained below BEFORE they can enroll in school. 

Foreign nationals who have applied for U.S. schools while abroad DO NOT plan to enter the U.S. in B-1/B-2 status and then file for change of status. You MUST apply for an F-1 student visa and enter the U.S. in F-1 status.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of the participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business only for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Individuals who came on VWP cannot change status to F-1 while remaining in the U.S. They must obtain a Form I-20, depart the U.S., apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status.

Two Possible Options to Obtain F-1 Student Status: 

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages; depending on individual situation, OISS may recommend one way over the other as the better option. Final decision to choose either way is made by the individual applicant.

Option 1. Departing the U.S., applying for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. consulate ideally at home country, and reentering the U.S. in F-1 status. 
              If time and money allow, this option is recommended over Option 2. Once an F-1 visa is obtained, the student is allowed to enter the U.S. within 30 days before program starting date on I-20. For as long as the visa is valid, the student can travel abroad without having to worry about applying for a visa.

Option 2. Remaining in the U.S. while applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status:

             It takes USCIS up to 90 days and sometimes much longer to make a decision on a change of status application. B-1/B-2 visa holders are not allowed to start study while application pending. 
 

             Travel Before or After Change of Status ApprovalBefore Approval: leaving the U.S. while the change of status application is pending with USCIS is considered abandoning the application. The applicant must notify OISS to cancel it on SEVIS, obtain a new I-20 for initial attendance, and apply for an F1 student visa following the same student visa application instructions for new students. After approval: the USCIS approval of change to F-1 student status only allows the individual to study in the U.S., but the next time the student travels outside the U.S. other than Canada, Mexico and the adjancent islands except Cuba, the student must apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate, ideally in his/her home country, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status in order to continue to study. (Please see instruction for travel.)

Documentation list for filing change of status with USCIS. To apply, please email OISS@andromeda.rutgers.edu for assistance.