International Students and Scholars

328 O'Dowd Hall
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3358
Fax: (248) 370-3351

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Change of Immigration Status

Federal regulations permit individuals holding a non-immigrant visa in the U.S. to change status to another non-immigrant category while in the U.S. by submitting a change of status (COS) application.  Please call the ISSO if you wish to  obtain F-1 status, so that you can discuss your options in person.

The change of status can be especially challenging, and it may be best to travel, apply for an F-1 visa abroad, and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.  If you choose to change your status by this route, you will only require 2 appointments with ISSO, rather than the 3 detailed below.  One will be informational to discuss all of your options, so please bring all of the documents listed below in the first appointment section with you.  The second appointment is where the ISSO would issue your I-20 to take back with you to your home country and apply for the visa there. 

We do not process any change of status paper work or answering change of status questions during our walk-in hours.  Plan your travel and F-1 visa appointment accordingly.

You can enter the U.S. with your I-20 and F-1 visa no earlier than 30 days before the I-20 start date. 

For students applying for COS from F-1 to F-2 or J-1 to J-2 please click here for instructions. 
USCIS approval within the country takes an uncertain number of months, and requires 3 one hour appointments with international adviser.
For students travelling abroad and applying for F-1 visa you will need the following documents to submit to an international adviser for I-20 creation before you travel:
  • Admission letter
  • Valid passport
  • Proof of funding for one academic year, must be in English
  • Affidavit of support (from OU's admission international supplemental application) if funding is not your own  
Details of the 3 COS appointments for In-Country Change of Status:

First Appointment
Your international adviser will:
  • Explain all the options for your change of status
  • Review the forms you need to submit for COS
  • Identify current immigration status and timeline
  • Review your immigration paper work, OU tuition and living expenses, COS process fee

Please bring the following documents with you to your first appointment:

Second Appointment
Your international adviser will:
  • Verify financial support, whoever will be funding your living (including tuition, living expenses, school supplies and health insurance) in the USA when you will become F- student must show 4 months of bank statement in the amount of one academic year. Each person who will be supporting you has to provide a bank statement for 4 consecutive months and affidavit of support I-134 form
  • Explain process on how to pay SEVIS fee
  • Generate I-20 (you can only pay the SEVIS fee after you receive your I-20)
Required Forms
The following forms will be required for your second appointment:
Third Appointment
Your international adviser will:
  • Review all supporting documentation, must bring 2 copies of everything 
  • Finalize the COS packet
  • Provide mailing envelope for the student to mail the COS packet

You must bring the following documents:

  • Forms listed above: I-539, G-1145 and I-134
  • Copy of the receipt indicating payment of the SEVIS fee
  • Check or Money Order for I-539 Form addressed to Department of Homeland Security including the biometric services fee
  • Original Marriage certificate and authorized English translation 
  • Detailed letter requesting and explaining the need to change status
  • Copy of your entire F-1 I-20 (sign in “Student Attestation” section on page 1 of the form before making a copy). Do NOT send your original I-20. USCIS does not require the original and will not return it.
  • Copies of all of your immigration documents and your spouses (e.g. DS-2019, F-2 I-20, I-797, paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status 
  • Employment offer letter of your spouse
In order for the adviser to finalize and complete your COS packet you must have 2 identical copies of the COS paperwork at your third appointment. One copy of all the documents will be mailed to USCIS and one copy of everything will be saved in the student's file at the ISSO. 
Once the COS packet has been mailed, you will have to communicate with your immigration adviser about approvals, denials, request for evidence, etc.  Please do not move or travel outside of the USA while your change of status is pending. If your COS is approved, the California Service Center will return a new Form I-94 indicating your new status to the address indicated on your Form I-539 application. If your I-20 is NOT approved by your I-20 program start date you must notify your international adviser within 20 days to modify your program start date in SEVIS. 

If you plan to be a graduate/teaching assistant, you cannot begin working until your change of status is approved.