You are required to change to an F1 student visa to join an academic program if you are currently in the United States on:
- a B1/B2 visitor visa
- an F2 dependent visa
- an M1 visa
You are not required to change to F1 status if you are in the United States on an H4 visa. Permanent immigrants, such as green card holders, may also study without changing visa status. You are not allowed to change your status at all if you are on certain types of visa
. If you are uncertain, check this detailed chart
(for non-immigrants only) or ask the International Center for help.
Effective July 2014, North Lake College will no longer process B visitor visa change-of-status requests due to tightening government policies.
- Although you may apply for a change of status while in the U.S., North Lake College strongly recommends that you apply from your home country due to strict immigration guidelines and extensive processing times.
- If you arrived on a non-student visa, NLC recommends a 3 month waiting period before applying.
- Change of status is adjudicated by USCIS, a division of U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NLC has no influence regarding approval or denial of your change of status. The final decision is solely at the discretion of the United States government.
- Your current I-94 status must be valid before you will be allowed to apply at NLC.
- We strongly advise you to contact an immigration attorney for additional information on changing your visa status while in the U.S. Not all visa types are eligible for a change of status. Remember that attorneys will charge fees for their help.
- Other colleges and universities may have different change of status procedures.
The Application Process
First, apply to North Lake and be accepted. NLC will issue an acceptance letter and I-20 form. Make sure NLC has your contact information, including a phone number, email address, and street address.
Apply for a change of status on the USCIS website using their new online system. When you fill out the application, you must use the North Lake College International Center address on the I-539, not your own address. Our address is in the box on the right side of this page.
Once you are accepted to North Lake College, our International Center advisers (referred to as DSOs on Study in the States) are ready to help you. We will review your change-of-status application, check for any errors and give you instructions as needed.
USCIS sometimes requests additional information from us about applications. If this happens, our office will contact you immediately. Failure to respond by the deadline will result in a denial of your application.
Once USCIS makes a decision on your change of status, our office will contact you.
- If the application is approved, you will be required to sign up for new F1 student orientation for the upcoming term.
- If your application is denied, you will be asked to make an appointment with the F1 advisor to discuss your options. USCIS decisions cannot be appealed, but you can talk to our advisors and, if you choose, you can consult with immigration attorneys.
You must notify your advisor at NLC that you plan to study 15 days before your first semester begins. If USCIS is still processing your visa application, contact us and we can provide a deferral to the next semester.