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Changing to F-1 or J-1 Status

Issuance of an I-20/DS-2019 does not give you F-1/J-1 status in the United States. There are two ways to obtain the new status.

  • Option 1: Applying for change of status to F-1/J-1 from within the United States
  • Option 2: Applying for an F-1/J-1 visa a U.S. Consulate abroad

Eligibility to Change Status within the United States

  • Valid non-immigrant status
  • Admittance to IIT
  • IIT-issued I-20/DS-2019
  • Not be in C, D, K or M status
  • Not be a visitor with WT or WB status (Visa Waiver Program)
  • Not be a J-1 or J-2 non-immigrant with a 2-year home residency requirement
  • Have not overstayed or violated status

Important Points

  • You must continue to maintain your current status until at least 30 days before the start date of your I-20/DS-2019 and you have a receipt notice issued by USCIS that your application has been received.
  • Some immigration statuses do not permit study including B-1/B-2 statuses.  Individuals in these statuses are not permitted to enroll or attend classes until their change of status has been approved.
  • Individuals in F2 status may study part-time until their Change of Status application to F-1 status is approved.
  • Students may not work on-campus until F-1/J-1 status has been approved. This includes Teaching and Research Assistant positions.
  • J1 students must submit and be approved for on-campus employment if will be employed at Illinois Tech
  • Students will not be eligible for off-campus employment authorization until F-1/J-1 status has been approved and enrollment requirements are met.

Option 1- Apply Within the U.S.

  • Obtain an I-20/DS-2019 from Illinois Tech. 
    • New students will receive the I-20 from the Admissions office at IIT if requested as part of the admission process.
    • Current students must request the I-20/DS-2019 from the International Center.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee to the Department of Homeland Security and get a copy of the receipt of payment. You will need your I-20/DS-2019 and SEVIS ID number to pay the fee. More information about how to pay the fee is available online at www.FMJfee.com. You must submit the receipt of payment with your Change of Status application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.
  • Prepare the application materials:
    • I-20/DS-2019 issued by IIT. Be sure to sign the first page, at the bottom.
    • SEVIS fee payment receipt.
    • Completed I-539 form. Download at www.uscis.gov. Click on Immigration Forms on the top menu. Starting from March 11th, 2019, USCIS will only accept the latest version of this form.  The form must have an edition date of 02/04/2019 on it.   The new form will be published on March 11th, and not sooner.  
    • Starting from March 11th, 2019 all applicants for a change of status must also pay an $85 biometrics fee. 
    • Completed G-1145 form. Download at www.uscis.gov. Click on Immigration Forms on the top menu.
    • Check for $370 payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Make sure to verify current fees on USCIS website
    • Letter of acceptance from IIT admissions.
    • Original financial documents indicating availability of funds to pay tuition and living expenses. See Financial Document Guidelines. *J1 applications must have funding for the entire duration of the DS-2019
    • Cover letter explaining the circumstances leading to the need for a change of status.
    • Photocopy of passport (biographic pages, visa stamp, and passport expiration date).
    • Original I-94 card or electronic printout
    • If you currently hold dependent status (e.g. F-2, J-2, H-4) also include photocopies of the principle visa holder’s valid status (e.g. I-94, visa, passport identity page, DS-2019/I-20, I-797, etc.).
  • Mail the application to the USCIS. See Mailing Instructions, below

Mailing and Notification Instructions for All Students

  1. Mail your application to the address listed on: Form I-539 Direct Filing Addresses.  Make sure to keep a copy of all pages submitted.
  2. You will receive a receipt from the USCIS in 2-3 weeks. It may take 4-6 months for USCIS to make a final decision. You may track your petition on the following website: www.uscis.gov
  3. If your application is approved, you will receive the I-20/DS-2019 form back from USCIS with an approval stamp on your I-20/DS-2019 and a new I-94 card.
  4. Immediately bring your change of status notification, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 card to the International Center & meet with an International Student Advisor.  We will make copies of your approval documents & we will update your university record and create a file for you. Congratulations! You are now an F-1/J-1 international student.
  5. Carefully review the International Center’s webpage. In particular, read the Maintaining Status section. Maintaining status is your responsibility.
  6. You will be added to the International Center Google Group e-mail list through your IIT e-mail address. You are responsible for reading these updates.
  7. Email is the primary form of communication for the university.  Emails will be sent to your university email address.  Failure to check your university email may result in the loss of your immigration status.
  8. If your application is denied, you will receive notification from the USCIS. If your underlying status is still valid, you may remain in the United States in that status. If your underlying status has expired, you must prepare to depart the United States. Meet with an advisor at the International Center to discuss your options.

Option 2: Change of Status by Travel

  • Obtain an I-20/DS-2019 from Illinois Tech. 
    • New students will receive the I-20 from the Admissions office at IIT if requested as part of the admission process.
    • Current students must request the I-20/DS-2019 from the International Center.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee to the Department of Homeland Security and get a copy of the receipt of payment. You will need your I-20/DS-2019 and SEVIS ID number to pay the fee. More information about how to pay the fee is available online at www.FMJfee.com. You must submit the receipt of payment with your Change of Status application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.
  • Apply for the corresponding visa stamp at a US Embassy/Consulate. It is recommended to apply for the visa in your home country. If applying in a country other than your own, contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you plan to make your appointment to determine their specific procedures for submitting an application as well as their guidelines regarding third-country applications.
  • Upon re-entry in F-1 or J-1 status, the student must immediately check-in with the IC. To check-in, the student should bring their I-20 or DS-2019, passport with visa stamp, and I-94 card or electronic print out. Please see details under the New Student section.
  • You will not be permitted to enter until it is within 30 days of the start date of your I-20/DS-2019