Change of Status

Nonimmigrants who currently reside in the United States and wish to change their nonimmigrant status to F-1 or J-1 to participate in a Georgetown full-time program should review the following information and contact their dedicated IS Advisor with any questions.

There are two ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 status:

  • Request an initial entry Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from Georgetown
  • Travel outside the United States
  • Apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad
  • Reenter the United States with the F-1 or J-1 student documentation

Travel is generally the fastest and most efficient way to change status. We recommend researching current wait times and visa information on the Department of State website and consult a qualified immigration attorney with questions about whether traveling to gain F-1 or J-1 status is the best option.

For those who cannot travel, the Office of Global Services (OGS) recommends consulting with an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing the Form I-539 with USCIS. You may be eligible to submit an application to USCIS to change status while remaining in the United States if the following eligibility requirements are met:

  • You are maintaining your current nonimmigrant status
  • Your current period of authorized stay has not expired and will not expire more than 30 days prior to your Georgetown program start date
  • You have no previous violations of status
  • Your current status does not prohibit a change of status application through USCIS*


  • Individuals admitted under the visa waiver program cannot change to F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Vocational students in M status cannot change to F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Individuals subject to the 212(e) Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement must first obtain a waiver to submit a change of status application to USCIS.
  • Individuals in F-2 status are prohibited from studying full time before USCIS approves the change of status to F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Individuals admitted to the United States in tourist status or any status that prohibits study cannot legally begin an academic program before USCIS approves the change of status to F-1 or J-1 status.

USCIS typically takes many months to review the change of status application. You can view the current average processing times on the USCIS website. You are strongly advised to avoid traveling outside the United States while the application is pending. Please note if you leave the United States after the change of status is approved, you must still apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad to reenter the United States.

To apply to USCIS to change status, you must:

1) Submit evidence to OGS the dependents will retain existing status for at least six months into the future in order to obtain the change of status Form I-20s from Georgetown.

2)  Mail a Form I-539  paper application with supporting documents to USCIS. OGS recommends consulting with an immigration attorney to complete this process.