When entering the U.S. from abroad each individual expresses a certain intent, which helps to place them in a particular visa category. Sometimes the original intent of the person will change while they are in the U.S. (For example, a worker on an employment visa, may wish to enroll at a university for full-time study.) United States law allows for changes to be made from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status when certain requirements are met.
There are two methods for changing one’s non-immigrant visa category:
- Depart the United States (along with dependents if applicable) and apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy abroad.
- Apply for a “Change of Status” with USCIS and remain in the U.S. while the application is pending (processing time is 5 to 8 months).
General Eligibility Requirements for a Change of Status through USCIS
- An applicant must be “in-status” at the time he or she applies for the change of status, meaning the applicant must have a valid, unexpired status and must be maintaining this status.
- The application for COS must be received before the period of previously authorized stay expires.
- Applicants currently in J-1 or J-2 status must not be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement OR must have obtained a waiver of this requirement.
- Applicants must submit properly completed forms and supporting documents.
- Applicants must demonstrate financial ability to remain in the U.S.
- Applicant must be eligible for the non-immigrant status for which he or she is requesting.
For more information on the eligibility requirements for a change of status or to begin your COS process, please contact OIS at email@example.com or 919-515-2961 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.
Does OIS assist with “Change of Status” (COS) applications?
OIS assists with “Change of Status” (COS) applications when the applicant wishes to change to the F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 visa from another non-immigrant visa category (most commonly H-1, H-4, F-1, F-2, and E-2). To begin your change of status process to an F or J visa, please schedule an appointment with an OIS advisor. You may call 919-515-2961 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
OIS does NOT assist with immigration advice regarding permanent residency or employment visas. Employees of the university wishing to change to H-1B, TN, or O-1 must speak with a representative of the International Employment Office at NC State. OIS does not support changes from one J-1 visa category to another J-1 visa category (e.g. changing from a J-1 short-term scholar to a J-1 research scholar).
Disclaimer: OIS can offer support in preparing the change of status application and can issue necessary documents in case needed, however our office has no influence in the decision making process for a change of status application. The decision to grant or deny a change of status request lies solely with USCIS.
Notify OIS of Changes of Status
Students and Scholars who change their non-immigrant status (to H-1B, pending permanent resident, dependent status, etc.) must notify OIS of the changes immediately to close out the relevant SEVIS record and update the University records. You may notify OIS by e-mailing the supporting documentation (I-797 Approval, EAD, new I-94, etc.) to email@example.com. No appointment is necessary unless the student or scholar has questions or needs further advice.