Change of Visa Status (COS) Request Checklist
A change of visa status could be from any legal status to F-1 status. Often our students change from F-2 spouse to F-1 status or from H-1 employee to F-1. If you would like to apply for a change of status (COS) by USCIS, you must hold valid visa status during the following times:
- Before the COS application is submitted to USCIS
- After USCIS receives your application and during the application review process
- Up until the date that the new status is approved
Failure to maintain the previous status can result in denial of the new status application by USCIS. Please note that it takes approximately 3 - 8 months for USCIS to process your COS request. Until your change of status (COS) is approved, you are not authorized to work or enjoy other F-1 status benefits.
Change of Visa Status (COS) Checklist
- Download and complete I-539 form (www.uscis.gov/i-539)
- Check for $370 made payable to Department of Homeland Security/USCIS
- Mail copies of the following documents:
- Passport demographic page and visa page as proof of your identity
- Current I-94 document as proof of your current legal status
- I-20 or DS-2019, as appropriate (issued by the Graduate School) as proof of your eligibility for F-1 status
- Documents related to any previous immigration statuses in the U.S.
- Ex. I-94s, EADs, COS approval notice
- Funding documents (cannot be older than 6 months) to show that you have the means to support yourself an your academic expenses for at least one year (See financial requirements page for details)
- Documents to show clear intent to return to your home country after degree completion
- Examples: titles to land you own, proof of home ownership, or a job offer in your country which is contingent upon completion of your degree. If you are unable to provide these documents, write a letter describing your plans and expressing your intent to return to your home country after completing your degree.
- If your COS request is based on a spouse’s visa status, include the following information in addition to the information listed above:
- Copy of spouse’s passport (demographic and visa pages)
- Copy of spouse’s current I-94
- Copy of spouse’s I-20 / DS-2019 or other relevant immigration documents
- Funding documents (cannot be older than 6 months)
- Examples: Affidavit of support, bank statement, assistantship agreement or other proof of sufficient funding. Information should show that both requester and spouse have sufficient funds available for at least two years.
NOTE: You also will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. You can pay the fee online at www.fmjfee.com. Failure to pay the SEVIS Fee will result in denial of the Change of Status request.
Mailing instructions can be found on the USCIS website under “Where to File.”
We strongly encourage all COS applicants to seek help from an immigration attorney.