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Change My Nonimmigrant Status

If you want to change the purpose of your visit while in the United States, you (or in some cases your employer) must file a request with USCIS on the appropriate form before your authorized stay expires.  For instance, if you arrived here as a tourist but want to become a student, you must submit an application to change your status. We recommend that you apply as soon as you determine that you need to change to a different nonimmigrant category.

Until you receive approval from USCIS, do not assume the status has been approved, and do not change your activity in the United States.  For example, if you are currently a nonimmigrant tourist, do not begin attending school as a student until you have received authorization from USCIS to change your status. If you fail to maintain your nonimmigrant status, you may be barred from returning to and/or removed (deported) from the United States. Your authorized status and the date your status expires can be found in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record.

In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.

You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted into the United States for business reasons (B-1 visa category ) and you wish to remain in the United States for pleasure before your authorized stay expires.

You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you wish to attend school in the United States, and you are the spouse or child of someone who is currently in the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant visa categories:

  • Diplomatic and other government officials, and employees (A visa category)
  • International trade and investors (E visa )
  • Representatives to international organizations and their employees (G visa )
  • Temporary workers (H visa)
  • Representatives of foreign media (I visa)
  • Exchange visitors (J visa)
  • Intracompany transferees (L visa)
  • Academic (F visa) or vocational (M visa) students (you may attend elementary, middle or high school only: if you want to attend post-secondary school full-time you must apply for a change of status).

You may not apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program· Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States (C nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV)
  • Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa)

If you are a vocational student (M-1), you may not apply to change your status to a(n):

  • Academic student (F-1) 
  • Any H status (Temporary worker), if the training you received as a vocational student in the United States provided the qualifications for the temporary worker position you seek.

If you are an international exchange visitor (J-1), you may not change your nonimmigrant status if:

  • You were admitted to the United States to receive graduate medical training, unless you receive a special waiver.
  • You are an exchange visitor and are required to meet the foreign residence requirement, unless you receive a waiver. 
    • If you do not receive a waiver, you may only apply to change to a diplomatic and other government officials (A visa) or representatives to international organizations (G visa)

For information on how to apply, see the “How Do I Apply” link to the left.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/02/2009