Change of Visa Status for F-1 Visas

There are two possibilities for how an individual can change between F-1 or F-2 status.

  • Re-entry to the U.S.: An individual may leave the U.S. with plans to apply for an F-1 or F-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate and then reenter the U.S. in the new status. (An F-1 visa is not required for citizens of Canada.)
  • Change of Status: An individual may submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request a change of status while remaining in the U.S.

Making the choice of how to acquire F-1 status or F-2 status—whether to use Re-entry to U.S. or Change of Status—can be a challenging and complex process. This choice can impact the applicant's immigration status and eligibility for future immigration benefits. There is risk involved with both options, as there is no guarantee the U.S. government will approve a change between F-1 or F-2 regardless of the process the individual follows.

ISSS strongly recommends applicants consult with an ISSS advisor to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the two options. While ISSS advisors cannot provide legal advice, they can help you discuss your options.

Acquiring F-1 Status

Re-entry Change of Status

Acquiring F-2 Status

Re-entry Change of Status

Staying in the U.S.?

Applicants should be aware that USCIS may take 12 months or more to make a decision about whether to approve or deny a change of status application filed within the U.S., and there is generally no way to expedite the process.

Last updated: December 29, 2021