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Changing, Extending or Renewing Your Visa

All applicants must be admitted to an academic program before applying for a change of status. Some visa statuses (H-4, H-1B, J-2) allow you to begin school before changing status; others do not (F-2, B1/B-2).

If you have questions about your current visa status, please contact the Office of International Services.

Change Status to F-1

There are two ways to obtain a new visa status.

Changing Your Immigration Status by Travel

You must change status by travel if you are:

  • In B, C, D, K or M status
  • In J status and subject to the two-year home residence requirement
  • Admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

To change status by travel:

  1. Obtain an I-20 from the Office of International Services. You will need to be accepted into an academic program to be issued an I-20. We’ll also need to verify your financial situation through a bank statement and/or sponsorship letter.

  2. Schedule a visa interview. It is highly recommended to return to your home country to obtain the visa. There are a number of documents that you will need in order to apply for a visa.

  3. Return to the United States. Once you have obtained the visa, you will return to the U.S., and an I-94 admission stamp will be placed on your I-20 with your new visa class.
Changing Your Immigration Status by Application

Filing for a change of status within the U.S. is possible. However, it is becoming increasingly more difficult. If you plan to apply for a change of status within the U.S., our office recommends enlisting the help of a qualified immigration attorney.

Changes of status within the U.S. have taken upwards of 12 months. During this time, you may or may not be able to study, depending on your prior immigration category. Additionally, you must maintain a legal immigration status until your change of status application is approved by U.S. immigration authorities. As a result, we do not recommend filing for a change of status within the U.S.

Extending Your I-20 or DS-2019

If your I-20 or DS-2019 will expire before you finish your studies, you must extend to maintain your status.

To extend, submit the following documents to the Office of International Services before your current form expires:

  • A letter from an academic adviser explaining the reason for, and length of, the extension
  • An updated financial certification to cover the tuition and living expenses for the extended period

Renewing a Student Visa

If you are traveling outside the United States and your visa has expired, you will need to schedule time to renew your student visa before returning to the United States. (Exceptions include Canada, Mexico and some adjacent islands through a process known as automatic visa revalidation.)

  • It is always recommended that you apply to renew your visa in your home country. You cannot renew a visa inside the United States.
  • Refer to the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country or in the country that you will be visiting for specific application instructions. Remember to plan ahead for any necessary visa appointment and processing time.
  • Prepare the appropriate documents listed on the embassy or consulate website.

Learn More about U.S. Visas