International Student Services


Due to the complicated nature and legal matters involved in changing your nonimmigrant status, we strongly recommend that you work with a qualified immigration attorney.

You may apply to change your status from your current nonimmigrant status (B1/B2, F2, H4, etc.) to F-1 while in the United States if the following conditions are met:

  •  You were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa.
  •  Your nonimmigrant status remains valid.
  • You have not violated the conditions of your status and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.
  • You have not worked in the US without employment authorization.

Changing to F-1 status via travel and re-entry

An alternative to applying for change of status with USCIS, is to depart the U.S. and use a Form I-20 to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate, preferably in your home country.

A change of status does not give you a new visa in your passport. If you travel outside the US after changing status, you will need to apply for the visa in order to return and resume F-1 status. Therefore, if you plan to travel outside the US before completing the academic program, you should consider returning home and applying for the visa now, rather than applying for change of status. If your F-1 visa is approved, you can return to the US to study in F-1 status.

B1/B2 restrictions

Changing status from B1/B2 is especially challenging. Timing the application appropriately is critical.

  • You are not eligible for a change of status in the United States if you entered as a visitor through the visa waiver program.
  • You cannot begin studying until the change of status to F-1 is approved.
  • You must maintain B status until at least 30 days before the program start date. A separate application to extend your B status while the change of status is pending may be necessary.
  • Processing time for a change of status application may take from 3 to 10 months.  
  • Due to processing times and study restrictions, Edmonds CC will issue the I-20 for changing status from B to F, no less than 3 months prior to the intended start date. Please apply early and consult an attorney for guidance.

Other visa type restrictions

  •  J-1 Exchange Visitor subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement cannot change status, with certain  exceptions
  • M-1 Vocational student cannot change status to F-1
  • F-2 can study part time (not full time) until the application is approved

More information about change of status:

If you are interested in applying to Edmonds CC and you want to proceed with a change of status, please contact us to discuss your options further.

*This handout is for information only and not intended to be legal advice. We recommend that you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. Edmonds CC may issue the I-20 for change of status; however, we do not assist with preparing the I-539 or filing the petition with USCIS.