Changing your Immigration Status from H-1B to F-1
To change from H-1B temporary worker to F-1 student status within the U.S., complete the application packet (available at the ISSO or on-line below), and mail the items suggested in the application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After you are approved for the change of status, the next time you travel out of the U.S., you will have to go to a U.S. consulate to apply for the F-1 visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. Make certain your complete application is reviewed by an ISSO staff member before mailing.
USCIS usually takes between 1 and 3 months to approve a change of status application. Your application change of status application MUST be received by the USCIS before your final day of employment in H1B status. You may NOT work on campus as an F-1 student until your change of status to F-1 is approved, however, you may enroll in classes prior to receiving the approval.
Please note: Because the timing of filing a change of status from H-1B to F-1 can vary depending on your situation and where you live in the U.S., it is best to contact an advisor at the ISSO to discuss your specific situation.
ITEMS IN APPLICATION TO the appropriate USCIS office as stated in the I-539 instructions:
- A receipt showing that you have paid the “SEVIS fee” which you can print when you pay the fee on line at: www.FMJfee.com.
- A letter from you, requesting the change of status and explaining your circumstances and plans. An adviser at the ISSO should look at your letter before you mail your packet to the USCIS.
- Completed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (ISSO adviser can help you with items you don't understand; remember to fill out both sides of the form, answer questions in Part 4 item 3 on a separate page when necessary.
- APPLICATION FEE: Check the I-539 form for the appropriate fee amount. Please write your check or money order payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Write your I-94 card number & the type of application you are requesting on your check or money order.
- Your Cornell I-20. Send the original, not a copy. Be sure to read page 2 and sign on page 1, Item 11.
- Photocopies of your immigration documents:
- Your I-797 approval notice for your H-1B status
- ID page of your passport
- page in passport showing expiration date if different than ID page
- your H-1B visa page if you have one
- BOTH sides of your I-94 card
- Financial documentation: evidence which supports section 8 on your I-20 (personal or family bank statements and/or letter from your academic field describing your assistantship).
Staple all of the items together (keep a copy for your records) and mail by certified mail to the appropriate USCIS address as stated in the I-539 instructions.
NOTE: After your I-20 and new I-94 are returned to you, send or bring a photocopy of the documents to the ISSO.