African dancers
Flags from different countries
People talking at the Festival of Cultures

Change to F-1 Status


If your original reason for coming to the United States changes, you may be required to change your nonimmigrant status to a different one before you lawfully begin to engage in the activities you want to pursue. See 8 CFR § 248.1(c).


A nonimmigrant is eligible to change to an F-1 status in the following circumstances:

  1. I do not currently have a C, D, K, M, or S visa.
  2. I am not in the United States under the visa waiver program.
  3. If I am currently in J-1 status, I am not subject to a 2-year home country residency requirement.


Schedule an appointment with an international student advisor. Be sure to bring:

  1. Completed Form I-539
  2. I-901 fee (SEVIS fee)
  3. Current I-94 card (given to you on the plane and likely stapled inside your passport)
  4. Current, valid passport
  5. Current, valid visa stamp (inside passport, unless stamped in old passport)
  6. Evidence of financial support sufficient to meet expenses detailed on I-20
  7. Truthful written statement to USCIS explaining why you want to become a student after arriving to the U.S. in another visa category and why you deserve a change of status. You must establish that your original intention for entering the U.S. was not to become a student.
  8. Check or money order (money order preferred) for $290 addressed to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  9. Admission letter from Pellissippi State Community College

NOTE: If you are in F-2 or J-2 status, you must bring the F-1 or J-1 status holder’s passport, I-20, visa stamp, and I-94 card to your appointment in addition to the above-listed documentation.