Although students can apply for an F-1 visa at any U.S. Embassy/Consulate outside the U.S., we recommend that students travel to their home country to apply for an F-1 visa. If you travel outside the U.S. to apply for an F-1 visa, you should bring the following documents with you to your visa interview:
- Complete a visa application form, available online HERE.
- Photographs for your visa application. View photograph guidelines HERE.
- Original I-20 from the International Admissions office HERE.
- St. Thomas Admission letter
- SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt: this $200 fee for F-1 and $180 fee for J-1 must be paid at least 3 days prior to your visa interview. See the instructions enclosed with your I-20 form or online.
- Visa fee, check with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where you apply for your visa for the fee amount
- Valid passport
- Original school transcripts and public examination certificates (TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc.) if applicable
- Original or certified copies of documents that establish the necessary financial support for the expenses listed on your I-20. This should be the same financial support information used to obtain the I-20 from St. Thomas. Completed I-134 Affidavit of Support available online HERE.
- Evidence to demonstrate strong ties to your home country
- For the option of receiving an email and/or text message information that USCIS has accepted your application or petition, please complete G-1145 form.
Students who prefer to file a change of status application within the U.S. must meet with an OISS advisor to file a change of status application. Change of status application processing is currently taking approximately 3 to 4 months. Students who travel outside the U.S. while their application is pending and students whose change of status application is denied, should proceed with option (1) above in order to return to the U.S. to continue their studies in F-1 status at the University of St. Thomas.
The following documents are required to change your immigration status to F-1 within the U.S.
- Brief letter explaining why you want to change your status to F-1 (i.e. to receive the benefits of F-1 status such as work on-campus or being eligible for practical training before or after graduation). You should explain how this degree program would benefit you when you return to your home country in the future.
- A completed I-539 form (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status). This form is available HERE.
- A check or money order made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $370.
- I-20 form issued from OISS for the purpose of change of status. You will have to submit an original copy of your financial verification to OISS in order to have an I-20 issued. You will pick up your I-20 from OISS when you have your appointment.
- St. Thomas admission letter.
- Proof of financial support for the amount listed on your I-20. This can be the same as used to obtain the I-20 from International Admissions (see above). Financial documents should be dated within the last 6 months.
- Completed I-134 Affidavit of Support available HERE. (This form should only be used when someone is sponsoring you from within the U.S.)
- Copies of passport, visa and copy of I-94 and other current immigration documents.
- Photocopy of your SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt ($200.00 fee). You can pay it online HERE.
- If you are married and your spouse has a different last name, a photocopy of your marriage certificate is recommended.
- If you are currently on a dependent visa, you should include the following:
- If on F-2, include proof that the F-1 has maintained full-time status, photocopy of F-1's I-20, passport, visa and copy of I-94
- If on H-4, include H-1B employer verification letter and last 4 pay stubs for the H-1B spouse, photocopy of H-1's passport, visa, I-797s and copy of I-94
- If you are including dependents in your change of status to F-1, include their information on the last page of the I-539, their dependent I-20s (issued by International Admissions) and photocopies of their passports, visas and copy of I-94.
- Receive updates from USCIS on your case by completing G-1145 (optional)
Visa Categories not allowed to change status to F-1 within U.S.
Students in the visa categories listed below are not allowed to change status to F-1 while in the U.S. These non-immigrants may still be eligible for F-1 status, but only if they obtain an F-1 visa and re-enter the U.S. as explained in option (1) above.
- M-1 students
- C, D and K non-immigrants
- J-1 Physicians in the U.S. for medical training
- J non-immigrants subject to 212(e), 2-year rule
- WT and WB visitors under the Visa Waiver Program
Enroll as a Full-time Student while application is pending
Once you submit the change of status application, you must enroll at the University of St. Thomas as a full-time student (12 credits per semester for undergraduate students, 6 credits per semester for graduate students) even before the application has been approved since we do not know when a decision about your application will be made. (See exceptions to this rule below). If your change of status to F-1 is approved and you are not a full-time student, you could be out of immigration status and required to apply for re-instatement to correct your immigration status.
Maintain current immigration status
All individuals applying for change of status to F-1 must maintain their current immigration status until their F-1 status is approved by USCIS. In other words, you must be in status to change status.
Exceptions to Full-time enrollment while application is pending
B-1, B-2, and F-2 visa holders who apply for a change of status to F-1 are not allowed to begin their studies until their change of status to F-1 has been approved by USCIS.
Schedule an appointment
Contact the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) at 651-962-6650 to schedule an appointment with an Immigration Advisor to begin the change of status application process. An advisor will discuss your specific circumstances and may recommend that you include additional documents with your application, depending on your unique situation. If you bring the original documents to your change of status appointment, the Immigration Advisor will make the necessary photocopies for your application.