Change Status

Responsibilities When Changing Status

From F-1/J-1 to Other Status

If you were F-1/J-1 and have changed to another status, such as H-1B or Permanent Resident, you must submit proof of your new status to so we can properly complete/terminate your F-1/J-1 record. If you are also still enrolled at UCSC, you must contact the Registrar by going to the Residence for Tuition Purposes website to view appointment availability so they can update your student record and residency for tuition purposes.

From Other Status to F-1/J-1, Including Between F-1 and J-1 Status

If you are a UCSC student currently in another status and plan to become an F-1/J-1 student because you are expiring out of your current status, or for any other reason, please email to make an appointment to discuss the process and obtain the necessary I-20 or DS-2019. Please refer to the “Ways to Change to F-1 or J-1” information below.

ISSP International Student Miscellaneous Fee

UC Santa Cruz Global Engagement will charge a one-time fee of $200 to undergraduate students requesting a change of status to F-1/J-1 from other visa statuses.

This fee helps support the services we provide in ISSP, including international student advising (which includes immigration advising), and programming to help with all aspects of life at UCSC. With this fee, we will be able to maintain and increase our services to better serve the international student community.  This fee is non-refundable.

Ways to Change to F-1 or J-1

Option 1: Travel outside the U.S. and reenter with new visa:

  1. Obtain a UCSC I-20 or DS-2019.
  2. Travel outside the U.S. We recommend traveling to your home country, if possible.
  3. Apply for a F-1 or J-1 visa at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  4. Once approved, enter the U.S. with the F-1/J-1 visa and other supporting documents.

Option 2: Apply to USCIS and remain in the U.S.:

  1. Obtain a UCSC I-20 or DS-2019 for “Change of Status.”
  2. Complete and file Form I-539 with USCIS.
  3. If your change of status is approved, an I-797A verifying your new status will be sent to you. A new I-94 showing “F-1 D/S” or “J-1 D/S” will be attached. You will not receive a visa in your passport. It is okay to remain in the U.S. without that visa, since your I-94 verifies your new status.


Travel & ReentryApplication to USCIS
Cost– Travel costs – $350 (F-1) / $220 (J-1) SEVIS fee– $160 visa application fee– $350 (F-1) / $220 (J-1) SEVIS fee – $370 Form I-539 application fee PLUS $85 biometric services fee per applicant/co-applicant
Timeline1 – 2 months, depending on home country.Please refer to processing times. Your current status must not expire more than 30 days before the I-20 or DS-2019 start date.
Travel In & Out of U.S.– Cannot apply for visa within U.S.- Cannot reenter U.S. until 30 days before I-20 or DS-2019 start date.- Can travel during program more easily with new visa.– Must remain in the U.S.- If you ever travel outside U.S., must apply for F-1 or J-1 visa to return as F-1 or J-1.
When can I begin studying at UCSC?After you have reentered the U.S. on your new visa in your new F-1 or J-1 status.Only once COS approved unless you are changing from a status that allows school attendance (e.g. H-4, E-2).
When can I work on-campus (e.g. TA) or do practical training (e.g. CPT)?– Can work on-campus once you have been registered by ISSP and, only if J-1, have ISSP permission.- Cannot request CPT/OPT until you have held F-1 for 3 quarters.– Cannot work on-campus until COS approved unless you have an existing work authorization (e.g. EAD).- Cannot request CPT/OPT until you have held F-1 for 3 quarters. Typically, quarters attended in previous status do not count toward 3 quarters.

Special Circumstances:

  • If you are B-1/B-2, you may not enroll in classes until your COS is approved.
  • If you are F-2, you can only enroll part-time until your COS is approved.
  • If you are J-1 or J-2 and subject to Section 212(e) and have not received a waiver, you must do Travel & Reentry.
  • If you are here under the Visa Waiver Program or in C, D, or K status, you must do Travel & Reentry.
  • If you or your principal (if changing from a dependent status) have filed for Permanent Residence, consult an immigration attorney to discuss your situation before pursuing a change of status or traveling for the visa.

How to Apply to USCIS

1. Complete USCIS Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.*

  • Download a blank form from Under Forms, select I-539. Type or print legibly in black ink.
  • Optional: Also complete USCIS Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. You will receive an email notification or text message when your I-539 has been received by USCIS for processing.

*Students with Dependents

You can include your spouse and unmarried children less than 21 years of age as co-applicants on your I-539, but only if you are all now in the same status or they are all in derivative status. If a child is less than 14 years of age, the parent or legal guardian may sign the application on their behalf.

2. Assemble the following documents:

  • $370 check/money order from a U.S. institution in USD, payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
  • Original, signed Form I-539. When selecting your mailing address, be aware that USPS will NOT forward any USCIS mail even if you have requested it. Be sure you can receive mail at your address for the next 6 months.
  • Detailed cover letter requesting and explaining need to change status. Mention your program start date.
  • Original I-94 in form of white paper card or electronic I-94 (
  • Photocopy of UCSC I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure you have signed the bottom of page 1 beforehand.
  • Photocopy of I-901 SEVIS fee receipt. Go to to pay fee and/or print receipt.
  • Photocopies of financial documentation verifying liquid funds you can use for tuition/living expenses, similar to what you used to request I-20 or DS-2019, e.g. bank statement, scholarship, or UCSC award letter.
  • Photocopies of your current immigration documents:
    • Passport identification page(s)
    • Current visa stamp
    • Current I-20 or DS-2019, if going from F-2 -> F-1/J-1; J-2 -> J-1/F-1; F-1 -> J-1; or J-1 -> F-1
    • H-1B approval notice and employment verification letter, if switching from H-1B -> F-1/J-1
    • Principal visa holder’s immigration documents, if switching from any dependent status (e.g. H-4, F-2)
  • Photocopies of marriage license and/or birth certificates (for children), if applicable.

3. Prepare your application to USCIS. Make a copy of the entire application for your personal records.

4. Send your application to:

For U.S. Postal Service, including Certified Mail:For Express mail service (FedEx, UPS, DHL):
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services *USCIS)USCIS Dallas LockboxP.O. Box 660166Dallas, TX 75266U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)ATTN: I-5392501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400Lewisville, TX 75067

If you live outside California, contact an ISSP advisor for assistance on where to send your application.

In this section

Last modified: Nov 21, 2023