Change of status

If you are currently in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status (B-1/B-2, F-1, F-2, H-1b or H-4) and would like to change to a different non-immigrant status (F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2) there are two options:

  • Option 1: You may travel outside of the U.S., apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy with all required materials, and re-enter the U.S. in the new status. This option is often referred to as Consular Processing.
  • Option 2: You may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status without leaving the U.S. by completing Form I-539 Application to extend/change your non-immigrant status. This process can take between 3 and 6 months and it is recommended you do not travel while your application is in process.

Please note: If your change of status application is approved by USCIS, you will be in your new status, but you will not have a corresponding visa reflecting the new status. As a result, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp the next time you travel outside of the U.S. in order to re-enter the U.S. in your new status.

To learn more about change of status and see which option is best for you,  please schedule an appointment with an advisor at the Office of Global Services (OGS) by calling 617-373-2310 or by visiting our front desk at 405 Ell Hall.

Video: Change to F-1 Student Status

Video: Change to F-1 Student Status within the U.S.

Traveling with a pending change of status

We don’t recommend traveling outside of the U.S. while your application with USCIS is still pending. If you can’t avoid traveling, please consult with OGS beforehand as you may need to reach out to USCIS to withdraw your application prior to traveling and submit a new I-20 request with OGS.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)

In order to be eligible for both CPT and OPT, you must have completed one academic year. One academic year is defined as two semesters or three quarters that meet minimum F-1 full-time enrollment requirements. It is possible for you to use your time in another status towards meeting the one academic year. If you are interested in this, please call OGS to schedule an appointment with an advisor. NOTE: OGS is not able to verify the term that you will be eligible for CPT or OPT until your change of status has been approved and you have successfully moved into F-1 status.