You can typically switch your US immigration status in two ways:
- Travel Abroad: Apply for an entry visa for the new status at a US Consulate abroad and re-enter the US with the appropriate documentation for the new status
- Apply to USCIS (Form I-539)
Whether you choose to travel or apply to USCIS, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires you to demonstrate:
- that you intend to leave the U.S. after completing your program of study
- that you do not plan to stay in the United States indefinitely
Individuals in certain immigration categories will need to supply additional documentation with the change of status application AND/OR meet certain eligibility criteria.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
Although permitted to begin classes in most cases, students who have not yet obtained F-1 status, via travel or an approval notice from USCIS, are not eligible for F-1 student benefits, such as on-campus or off-campus employment.