Changing Immigration Status to F-1 

If you currently are in the US on another visa status and would like to change an F-1 status you may do so two different ways. 


 -The first of which is to depart the US and apply for an F-1 visa at an Embassy outside of the US with an Initial I-20 and re- enter with F-1 status. Please follow the steps outlined in the Application Steps for Students Outside the US article. (A Change of Status I-20 cannot be used at a US embassy) 


-The second way is by submitting an I- 539 application to USCIS for change of nonimmigrant status with a Change of Status I-20. (An Initial I-20 cannot be used for the USCIS application)

Processing Time

The USCIS processing times are estimated between 15 and 20 months. You may check current processing times at Processing Times ( Students must be able to maintain their current status or have legal status to remain in the U.S. during this time. It is recommended to work with an immigration attorney to help you with the application process and to ensure you maintain legal status in the US throughout this time. 



Please note- you will not receive the F-1 visa stamp used to travel, only the F-1 status. If you later decide to travel outside of the US you will have to apply for the F-1 visa at a US embassy in order to re-enter the US. If you depart the U.S.  while your application is in process your application is considered abandoned and not be approved for the Change of Status 


Studying with a Pending Change of Status Application

If your current status allows you to study full time in the U.S. you may enroll in classes at HU under that status while your change of status application is pending. However, you are not allowed employment such as CPT or OPT work authorization until your F-1 status becomes effective. B1/B2 and F2 visa holders are examples of statuses that may NOT study while their Change of Status application is pending


Application Steps

  1. Apply for Acceptance to Harrisburg University as an F-1 Student
  2. An Acceptance Letter will be sent if you meet the Admission requirements
  3. Pay the Tuition Deposit (Please note that due to system integration, it can take up to 24 hours for your new HU credentials to be recognized by the Terra Dotta portal) 
  4. Once you receive your credentials, submit an Initial I-20 request HERE
    IMPORTANT -select  “CHANGE OF STATUS” as the issue reason in the questionnaire 
  5. You will receive your Change of Status I-20 to your HU email within 2-4 business days used in your application to USCIS (this is not an active I-20 and your F-1 status is not effective until you receive the approval notice from USCIS.
  6. Make the required payment of the SEVIS I-901 Fee 
  7. Submit your I-539 Application to USCIS  -Please visit Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status | USCIS for more information
  8. Once you receive the I 797A approval notice please send it to the ISO in order to obtain an Active I-20

For any questions regarding Change of Status please reach out to the ISO through the support portal