Change of Status to F-1

Law Cite 8 CFR § 214.2(7), 248.1(a)-(c) and 248.2

Change to F-1 Status

Individuals in certain non-immigrants status are not eligible to change status to F-1 from within the United States: C, D, K, M-1 students, J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training; J non-immigrants subject to the two year foreign residence requirement [212(e)] and WT/WB visitors.

The four common requests for a change of non-immigrant classification to F-1 student status are changes from B-2 to F-1, F-2 to F-1; J (J-1 or J-2) to F-1 and M-1 classification to F-1 of the M-1 classification was an error.

B-2 to F-1 Change of Non-immigrant Classification

Changing status from B-2 to F-1 has become increasingly difficult. On April 12, 2002, immigration published a proposed rule that all but prohibited this type of change of status. The proposed rule was withdrawn in early 2003, but it seems that at least some service center examiners have become more conservative in their interpretation of the regulations and review of these change of status applications.

Also published on April 12, 2002, was an interim final rule that prohibits B-1 and B-2 non-immigrants from beginning their studies until they obtain F-1 status either through re-entry or by successfully applying for a change of status. The applicant must convince the adjudicating officer that he or she has not yet begun his/her studies and will not do so until the change of status is approved. This rule remains an interim final rule as of the release date of their workshop publication. As in years past, a non-immigrant in B-2 status that entered the U.S. with “prospective student” noted on his or her visa and/or I-94 card will have the greatest chance for success in applying for a change of status to F-1. An application will more likely be successful if the BCIS Officer is convinced of the sequence of events that led up to the request for a change of status occurred incidental to B-2 status.

F-2 to F-1 Change of Non-immigrant Classification

An F-2 spouse may not engage in full-time studies until he/she has obtained a change in non-immigrant status to F-1. An F-2 can either apply to BCIS Service center for a change of status or through readmission to the U.S. on an F-1 Visa. An F-2 minor child may only engage in full-time study in an elementary or secondary school but must change status to F-1 before enrolling in a college/university level program. An f-2 dependent may not be employed under any circumstances. Therefore, an F-2 applying for change of status to F-1 must receive approval of the application before beginning any on-campus work including teaching and research assistantships.

J-1 or J-2 to F-1 change of Non-immigrant Classification

A non-immigrant in J status (J-1 or J-2) can only apply for a change of status to F-1 if he/she is not subject to 212(e) or has received a waiver of 212(e).

M-1 to F-1 change of Non-immigrant Classification

A student in M-1 status may not change classification to that of F-1 unless he/she was incorrectly classified as an M-1 Student.