Change of Status (COS)

A change of status is a change in one’s primary purpose for being in the United States. If you are currently on a non-immigrant status (except C, D, J subject to two year home residency, K visa status or under the visa waiver program) you may have the ability to change your status while within the United States.

There are two ways to obtain a new non-immigrant status:

  1.  Leaving the US, applying for a new visa and re-entering the US in the new status.*
  2.  Applying for a change of status while remaining in the U.S.

Comparison: Applying for a Change of Status within the U.S. vs Applying for a Visa Abroad 

Both options have associated advantages and risks, including immigration intent issues, timing, financial considerations, etc. Depending on the details for your situation, International Services may advise that one of these options is preferable. Please schedule an appointment with an International Student Adviser by calling (225) 578-3191 to discuss the specifics of your situation.

  Applying for a new status while remaining in the U.S. Applying for a new visa at U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad
Government Agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) U.S. Department of State (USDOS)

$455 USCIS filing fee

$350 SEVIS fee

Plane ticket and other costs associated to traveling to home country

Visa application fees

$200 SEVIS fee

Complete and sumbit an I-539 Form to USCIS.

Instructions on how to complete the form, necessary documents, and how to pay the filing fee is on the USCIS website.

Schedule an appointment a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Contact the Embassy/Consulate to be sure of the required documents needed.
Processing Time

Processing times for change of status (COS) applications may vary – Currently an average of 8-10 months
Applying for a visa abroad is usually faster than applying for a COS in the US. However, background checks may take longer in some Consular posts than others; check the specific embassy/consulate website for updated information.

A COS may not be approved for an applicant who failed to maintain their previously accorded status. Applicants must maintain their status to within 30 days of the program start date on their I-20.

This process does not change/provide a visa stamp. If you travel outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa stamp that reflects your new status.

Certain non-immigrant statuses do not allow class registration or work authorization until the new status is granted by USCIS. Such applicants should not register/attend classes, or start assistantship duties until their F-1 status is approved

J-1 visa holders that are subject to the two year home return requirement are not eligible to change their status within the U.S. unless they have been granted a waiver.

An F-1 student may be admitted for a period up to 30 days before the indicated program start date listed on their I-20.

While you may be authorized to apply for a U.S. visa at certain U.S. Consular posts in Canada and Mexico, the U.S. Department of State recommends that you apply for a new visa in your home country. Before you travel to a country other than yours to renew your visa, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country.