Apply to the Intensive English Program and change to nonimmigrant F-1 status

Change of Status to F-1

When you enter the United States in nonimmigrant status, you do so for a specific purpose, such as study, work, or travel. You may enter the U.S. with one purpose and later change your purpose. When this happens, you may need to obtain a new status. Different visa/status categories allow different activities. Schedule an appointment with an international student advisor or Designated School Official (DSO) as soon as you decide to apply for a new visa/status.

Begin the application process with UCEDA International at least 30-60 days before your current visa expires. You must be accepted as a student before you can apply for F-1 student status. This includes a simple application form, and a placement test to determine your level of English.

Click to Begin Your Application

Take a Free Placement Test

Collect these required documents to support your eligibility for F-1 student status.

  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of your current visa
  • Form I-94
  • Financial evidence: usually bank statements, from you and/or a sponsor. Students must show that they have sufficient funds to cover all educational and living expenses while in the USA.
  • Personal letter of intent. Write a letter explaining why you would like to change your status. This should include: Why did you initially come to the United States? What changed? How did you hear about UCEDA? Why do you want to study at UCEDA? Why is this better than studying English in your home country? How will you pay for living and studying in the United States? How will you use English when you return to your home country?

Submit your supporting documents for review

Once your documents are all ready, the school will create a Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility” for you. Then you can schedule a meeting with a Designated School Official to help you:

  • Review your letter of intent and all supporting documentation
  • Complete Form I-539 (DHS Change of Status Application)
  • Label the envelope and get it ready to mail
  • The same day, you will pay the following fees:
    • USCIS Filing Fee: $470 (paper filing) or $420 (online filing)
    • SEVIS I-901 Fee: $350 – Pay online to activate your Form I-20, visit
    • UCEDA Registration: $500 – Pay at the school or pay online

*Notice: UCEDA representatives are not immigration attorneys. We strongly advise you to consult an immigration attorney about your plans to apply to obtain F-1 status. USCIS approval may take 3 to 6 months. 

After sending the complete package to USCIS, you should receive a Form I-797 Receipt Notice in the mail. You may also receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). Please send a copy of these to the school so we can continue to provide support.

Monitor the status of your application at

Important notes:

  • You must maintain your current status while you await a decision from USCIS about your change of status. You may need to file a separate application to extend your current status before it expires.
  • You must stay in the U.S. during processing. Exiting the U.S. cancels the application.
  • Acceptance by the school not guarantee approval of F-1 status.
  • Obtaining a Form I-20 does not constitute approval of F-1 status.
  • Form I-797 Receipt Notice is not the same as approval of F-1 status.

Let us know when your F-1 status is approved! Once your case is approved, you must start classes in the next available session and pay the corresponding tuition. New sessions begin at UCEDA on the first Monday of every month.

Case Processing Times

USCIS updates case processing times on their website monthly. To know how long it generally takes to process benefit requests, please check case processing times

Can I Change Status?

You may be able to change status if:
• You are maintaining your current status.
• You are eligible for the new status.
• Your current status does not prohibit change of status in the U.S.

You generally cannot change status if:
• Your period of authorized stay has already expired.
• You have otherwise violated the conditions of your current status.
• You hold C, D, K, or vocational M status.
• You were admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

Advantages of Change of Status

– Ability to stay in the U.S. during processing
– No visit to the embassy or consulate required
– High rate of approval for good applications

Disadvantages of Change of Status

– You must still obtain a visa stamp to match your status the next time you travel outside the U.S. (except for trips under 30 days to Canada or Mexico)