Change to F-1 Status Guide


If your original reason for coming to the United States changes, you may be required to change your nonimmigrant status to a different one before you lawfully begin to engage in the activities you want to pursue. See 8 CFR § 248.1(c).

Option 1: Travel and Re-Entry

The travel and re-entry option is open to any individual seeking an F-1 visa or seeking to re-gain their F-1 status. 

Application Steps
  1. Log into the ISSS Student & Scholar Portal to start the request for an I-20. Make sure to select that you are inside the U.S. 
  2. Download your I-20 from the ISSS Portal after it is created.
  3. Pay your I-901 fee. Be sure to use the SEVIS number from the I-20 generated in step 2. Further instructions can be found by clicking here
  4. Verify if you need an F-1 visa or renew your F-1 visa.
    • If you do not have an F-1 visa already, you can follow the steps detailed on our webpage by clicking here
    • If you have an F-1 visa and it has not expired, you should contact your U.S. consulate in your home country where the visa was issued to determine if you need to apply for a new F-1 visa. 
  5. Work with an ISSS advisor to determine a travel and re-entry timeline.
  6. Once you return to the U.S. in your F-1 status, complete the Immigration Check-in process in the ISSS Portal to ensure your SEVIS record is accurate and activated in a timely manner. 
Suggested Travel Documentation
  1. All F-1 students need the following for re-entering:
    • Passport
    • F-1 Visa
    • New I-20
  2. If you are applying for your F-1 visa, you may also need the following documents:
    • Financial Documents
    • Transcripts (current KSU students)
    • Admission Letter (new KSU students)
  • A nonimmigrant in the United States may apply for an extension of stay or a change of status on this application, except as noted in the Who May Not File Form I-539 listed in the instructions found by clicking here.
  • Most nonimmigrant visa categories are eligible to apply for a change of status to F-1.
Obtain Your Change of Status F-1 I-20

Applying for a Change of Status in the United States involves several steps. If you are in an applicable nonimmigrant status, we recommend that you seek out the assistance of an immigration attorney. While the application process is not difficult, there may be additional steps you need to consider depending on your current status. If you are a current student at Kent State University, you can visit Student Legal Services to help you identify a list of immigration attorneys. 

  1. Log into the ISSS Student & Scholar Portal to begin the I-20 request. Make sure to notate that you are currently inside the U.S.
  2. Download the I-20 from the ISSS Portal once it has been created. Confirm that the Issue Reason listed in the first box on the first page states "Change of Status."
  3. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. Be sure to use the SEVIS number from the I-20 in step 2. Further instructions can be found by clicking here
Filing Your Change of Status Application


  1. For the following instructions, we recommend working with your immigration attorney.
    • Complete the Form I-539. The form and instructions can be found by clicking here
    • In addition to the Form I-539, you will need to collect evidence to submit to USCIS. Below are some suggestions for consideration:
      • Change of Status Form I-20
      • Current I-94 printout found here. If you entered the U.S. before May 2013, the card is likely stapled inside your passport. 
      • Copy of your current, valid passport
      • Copy of your current, valid visa stamp
      • Evidence of financial support sufficient to meet the expenses detailed on I-20
      • Official transcripts from Kent State University (current KSU students)
      • Admission letter from Kent State University (current or new KSU students)
      • Truthful written statement addressed to USCIS explaining why you want to become an F-1 student after arriving to the U.S. in another visa category and why you deserve a change of status. You must establish that your original intention for entering the U.S. was not to become a student. 
      • Two checks or money orders made out to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." You will need to submit 2 checks. The first check  is the fling fee for the Form I-539. The second check is for the biometric services fee required for you and for each person included on the Form I-539. View the current fees under "Filing Fees." For payments by credit card, please read the Form I-539 instruction section "Payments by Credit Card." 
      • If you have dependents as part of your application, you will need to include their information in the application. In addition to their passport, visa, and I-94, you should also include evidence that they are your dependent (i.e. marriage certificate or birth certificates). Every co-applicant/dependent will need to complete and sign a separate Form I-539A. the Form I-539A and instructions for completing it can be found by clicking here.
    • After you have completed your Form I-539 and collected all necessary evidence, mail your application. Most applicants will send their application to USCIS Dallas Lockbox. Review the Form I-539 mailing/filing addresses by clicking here. Select the appropriate filing location for your situation. 
    • Once your application has been received, USCIS will send you notification to the mailing address listed on your Form I-539. Requests for more information may also be sent to your mailing address. It is important to read every document sent to you by USCIS and follow all instructions. If you are confused or would like guidance on what to do, you can ask an ISSS advisor. On your receipt notification, you will have a receipt number. You can use this number to check the status of your application online by clicking here
    • As of March 8, 2019, every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant's address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539. USCIS will reject any Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.
  2. After you have filed your Change of Status application, please keep the following information in mind:
    • You must maintain your current nonimmigrant status until you have been approved for your change of status.
    • We do not recommend that you travel outside of the U.S. while your application is pending. This could be considered an abandonment of your application, resulting in a denial. 
    • If you plan on changing to F-1 status by travel and re-entry, please let an ISSS advisor know so we can assist you with the process.
    • If you have not been approved for your F-1 status and your program start date as it is listed on your I-20 is within 2 weeks, contact for assistance with updating your I-20. Failure to do this could result in a request for more information or denial of your application. 
Notification of Decision
Notification of Approval
  1. After you have received notification of approval, please make an appointment with an ISSS advisor to update your SEVIS record. Bring your approval notification to your appointment.
  2. Maintain all documentation for your records regarding your Change of Status. You may need it in the future.
Notification of Denial
  1. If your request is denied, you will need to continue to maintain your current status. 
  2. You have the option of applying again or you can consider a change of status by travel and re-entry. 
  3. If you still have questions about your denial, we recommend following up with your immigration attorney.