Getting into F-1 Status

How to change to F-1 status

You have two options for obtaining F-1 status:

  1. Apply inside the United States for a change of status.
  2. Leave the United States and apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy.

Option one: Apply for F-1 status from inside the U.S.

Approval or denial of your Change of Status application can take at least four months. It is critical that you start the application process well in advance of the start of your new program. Timing is especially critical if you will have funding from your department that will require you to work on campus in your first semester. Current processing times can be found by going to the USCIS website.

Request the appropriate form from OIS

Before you can apply for a Change of Status, you must first request an I-20 from OIS. Make an appointment with an OIS advisor by calling 812-855-9086 to see if you are eligible.

You will need to provide us with:

  • Updated financial documentation, less than 12 months old
  • A copy of your passport identity page (including date of birth, name, photo, and expiration date)
  • A copy of the passport identity pages for any dependents on your record
  • Admission letter from the Office of International Services

Once you have assembled the appropriate documents, contact OIS for iStart access. Once it is granted, you can request your I-20 using iStart.

Complete the change of status application (form I-539) from USCIS

You will need to gather these documents:

  • Form I-539 (can be downloaded from USCIS website)
  • A check or money order for $370, made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • Copies of:
    • Your new I-20 (You must request this new I-20 from the OIS via iStart!)
    • Your admission letter—from the Office of International Admissions
    • Financial documents showing that funds are available to cover the expenses as listed on the I-20 (Learn more about estimated expenses)
    • A copy of your electronic I-94 or the front and back of your I-94 card
    • Your passport’s identification page (including date of birth, name, photo, and expiration date)
    • Documentation that proves that you have been maintaining your other visa status (examples will be provided by an OIS advisor)
    • A receipt proving payment of the $200 SEVIS fee

Option two: Apply for F-1 status from outside the U.S.

Request the appropriate form from OIS

To apply for a new visa stamp from your home country, you must first request an I-20 from OIS. Make an appointment with an OIS advisor by calling 812-855-9086 to see if you are eligible.

You will need to provide us with:

  • Updated financial documentation, less than 12 months old
  • A copy of your passport identity page (including date of birth, name, photo, and expiration date)
  • A copy of the passport identity pages for any dependents on your record
  • Admission letter from the Office of International Services

Once you have assembled the appropriate documents, contact OIS for iStart access. Once it is granted, you can request your I-20 using iStart.

Apply for a new visa

After you have obtained your I-20, apply for the visa stamp at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. If you’re unsure where your embassy is, see this list.

You can learn more about applying for a visa in the F-1 student section. See also the U.S. Department of State’s website on information for nonimmigrants present in the United States, and visiting Canada or Mexico.

Once you’ve re-entered the United States using your new F-1 visa and I-20, your new status will take effect.