F-2 to F-1

F-2 to F-1 – Change of Nonimmigrant Status

Contact the Study Abroad office as soon as you know you must obtain F-1 status in order to discuss your options. You cannot begin classes until you are in F-1 status, so it may be best to travel, apply for an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status to ensure that you will obtain F-1 status before your classes begin.


1. Obtain an I-20 from ECSU.
If you have recently been admitted to the ECSU, request your I-20 from the Admissions office.
2. Decide which option to use: Travel and Reentry” or “Change Status in the U.S.”
3. Prepare the required documents and follow next steps for obtaining F-1 status (details below).

Option 1: Travel and Reentry

Plan your travel and F-1 visa appointment accordingly. You can enter the U.S. with your I-20 and F-1 visa no earlier than 30 days before the I-20 start date.

Option 2: Change of Status in the U.S.

Submit your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) one of two ways:
a. Apply online through the USCIS ELIS (USCIS Electronic Immigration System) or
b. Mail a paper application to the USCIS facility.
If you apply online, you must scan and upload copies of the following documents to ELIS. You will complete Form I-539 information online and pay the application fee online.
If you choose the paper application option, mail the following documents to the USCIS facility in your area.

  • Form I-539 (Paper application only; if you apply online, complete Form I-539 information online)
  • $290 fee: check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (Paper application only; if you apply online, you will pay the fee online)
  • Original I-94 card or photocopy of admission stamp and paper printout of I-94 record
  • Photocopy of the visa page and identification page in your passport
  • Photocopy of your previous I-20 listing you as the dependent of your F-1 spouse or parent
  • Photocopy of your spouse’s or parent’s I-20 and I-94 card (front and back)
  • Photocopy of the signed I-20 issued in your name by the school you plan to attend; ECSU Admissions will issue your I-20
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Detailed letter requesting and explaining the need to change status
  • Photocopy of proof of payment of SEVIS fee


The regulations prohibit beginning a full course of study and working on campus until the change to F-1 status is approved.
F-1 status cannot begin earlier than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. You should submit your application several months in advance, and you must be able to maintain your current F-2 status until 30 days before the I-20 start date. If your F-2 status will expire prior to 30 days before your I-20 start date, your application will most likely be denied. Even though you are allowed to stay in the U.S. while the application is pending, if your application is likely to be denied, it will be better for you to travel, obtain an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status.