Change of Status to F-1 or J-1

If you currently hold a different non-immigrant status and are considering obtaining F-1 or J-1 status, please review the information outlined below.

Please Note: The following is only general guidance on the I-539 or change of status process. It is not nor should it replace legal advice.  Be sure to also visit USCIS for specific information regarding eligibility and the application process. Although ISSS can give general guidance on the I-539 process, we are not able to give legal advice. If you decide you will still apply for a change of status with USCIS, ISSS recommends consulting an immigration attorney.

Important Considerations before Applying for Change of Status

  • The processing time for a change of status can be quite lengthy resulting in long delays, which could affect the result of your request and delay your academic studies. 
  • You must maintain your underlying status in order for your change of status to be approved. 
  • Your application should not be submitted earlier than 90 days from your last entry or any other status related change.
  • You should not leave the US while the change of status application is pending with USCIS.
    -- This will cause an abandonment of the application.
    -- Your SEVIS record may no longer be valid upon departure
  • Your current immigration status will determine if you can begin studying while the change of status is pending or if you must wait for approval.

1. Make an appointment with an international student adviser to discuss your individual situation.
Appointments must be made at least one day in advance by calling 848-932-7015. Bring your passport and current I-94 with you for the appointment. 

2. Decide how to obtain F-1 or J-1 status
There are two possible ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 student status:

Obtaining F-1 or J-1 Status via Travel

This entails obtaining an "initial attendance" I-20 or DS-2019 from the appropriate Rutgers office, traveling outside the United States and applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad (preferably in your home country), and then returning to the United States where you will be granted F-1 or J-1 status upon re-entry. We encourage you to meet with an international student adviser to discuss your plans and visa application considerations.

Obtaining F-1 or J-1 Status While Remaining in the United States

This entails obtaining an "initial attendance – Change of Status requested" I-20 or DS-2019 from the appropriate Rutgers office and submitting it with an application for "change of status" to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

USCIS updated their guidance on Changing to a Nonimmigrant F Student Status on February 6, 2018. This change could have major consequences if your change of status request is denied and you failed to maintain your current legal status throughout the change process. Students considering applying for a change to F-1 status while remaining in the United States are strongly encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney, especially if their current legal status will expire within less than one year. 

3. Request a New International Profile & Certificate of Eligibility
Newly admitted students will receive an I-20 or DS-2019 from admissions or from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services (RBHS) if an RBHS student. Currently enrolled Rutgers students must request an I-20 or DS-2019 from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services following the steps outlined below.
4. Complete check-in procedure after acquiring F-1 or J-1 status. 
Once the change of status has been approved (whether through travel or inside the U.S.), you must notify our office and complete an online check-in procedure through the RGlobal Portal. Use your Rutgers NetID and password to login to your RGlobal account to submit the check-in form (available under “Orientation” in the RGlobal portal). Failure to do so can jeopardize your legal status.

Procedure to request an I-20 or DS-2019

New Brunswick Students +

Newly admitted students will receive an I-20 or DS-2019 from admissions.  Currently enrolled New Brunswick students must request an I-20 or DS-2019 from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services, following this procedure.

1. Submit a New International Profile request form so we can create a record for you in our international student database. You will receive an email once this is ready.

2. Schedule an appointment with an International Student Adviser to discuss your plans. You can do this by calling us at 848-932-7015.

3. Submit the Change of Status e-form group via the RGlobal portal.

  • Please prepare to submit:
    • photocopy of your passport
    • current visa status documentation, such as a visa stamp
    • current I-94 
    • name & email address of your Academic Official (they will need to confirm your academic information)
      • Undergraduate students: this is your Undergraduate Dean/Advisor
      • Graduate students: this is your Graduate Program Director
    • Certification of Funds Form
    • Proof of financial support—please refer to the Certification of Funds for funding requirement. 

4. Receive your certificate of eligibility for F-1 status (form I-20) or J-1 status (form DS-2019). An adviser may contact you to request additional information before preparing your I-20 or DS-2019.

5. Once your change of status is approved, you must check in with Rutgers Global - ISSS to activate your SEVIS record. You can do this online via the RGlobal portal.

RBHS Students +

1. Submit a New International Profile request form so we can create a record for you in our international student database. You will receive an email once this is ready.

2. Schedule an appointment with an International Student Adviser to discuss your plans. You can do this by calling us at 973-972-6138.

3. Submit the Request for Initial I-20 e-form group via the RGlobal portal.

  • Please prepare to submit:
    • photocopy of your passport
    • current visa status documentation, such as a visa stamp
    • current I-94 
    • original acceptance letter
    • Affidavit of financial support and if applicable affidavit of free room and board
    • Proof of financial support—please refer to the Request for Initial I-20 e-form for funding requirement 

4. Receive your certificate of eligibility for F-1 status (form I-20). An adviser may contact you to request additional information before preparing your I-20.

5. Once your change of status is approved, you must check in with Rutgers Global - ISSS to activate your SEVIS record. You can do this online via the RGlobal portal.

Important considerations if you do apply for a Change of Status +

 

  • If the request for change of status to F-1 or J-1 has not been approved by the program start date on the I-20/DS-2019, you should notify ISSS. 
    -- ISSS may need to defer your program start date in SEVIS to avoid the termination of your SEVIS record.
    -- Until your application is approved, you must provide monthly updates to ISSS on your application status to avoid any issues with your immigration status.
    -- Upon receipt of Form I-797 Notice of Approval to F-1 or J-1 status, immediately check-in with ISSS. 
  • Students may not begin an assistantship, or engage in on-campus employment of any kind until the change of status has been approved.
  • Even with an approved change of status, most students will need to apply for a US entry visa for their new status during their next trip abroad.  (Citizens of Canada & Bermuda are exempt.)
  • Applicants who receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS should update ISSS and consult with an immigration attorney before responding.
  • If your application is denied or is not adjudicated before the expiration date on their current I-94, students should update ISSS and consult with a qualified immigration attorney.
  • IMPORTANT: On Form I-797 Notice of Approval, pay special attention to the “Valid from” date as the date indicates when your new status (F-1 or J-1) takes effect.
    -- From this date on, you should stop your previous status related activities (e.g. H-1B employment).