Center for Global Services
Changing to F-1 Status

Students who have been admitted to a degree program or who are already enrolled in a degree program at Rutgers may apply for a change to F-1 status, provided they currently hold valid status in another nonimmigrant category (such as H-4, F-2, or L-2).

There are two possible ways to obtain F-1 student status:

  1. by remaining in the U.S. and applying to USCIS for a change of status; or
  2. by traveling outside the U.S. and applying for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, then returning to the U.S. in F-1 status

Each way has some advantages and disadvantages; we advise you to speak with your international student adviser to discuss options as they relate to your individual situation.

Either way, however, newly admitted students must first obtain an F-1 certificate of eligibility (I-20) from the appropriate office. For newly admitted students, the appropriate office is Graduate or Undergraduate Admissions (whichever applies to you); for students who are already enrolled at Rutgers, the appropriate office is the Center for Global Services.

Obtaining F-1 Status While Remaining in the U.S.
This entails obtaining an "initial attendance" I-20 from the appropriate Rutgers office and submitting it with an application for "change of status" to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

For specific instructions on applying for a change to F-1 status while remaining in the U.S., please see our Application for Change of Status to F-1 Student instructions. If you want to submit an application for change of status to the USCIS, we urge you to meet with your international student adviser for assistance with the application.

Obtaining F-1 Status via Travel
This entails obtaining an "initial attendance" I-20 from the appropriate Rutgers office, traveling outside the U.S. and applying with the I-20 for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad (preferably in your home country), and then returning to the U.S. where you will be granted F-1 status upon re-entry.

If you want to obtain F-1 status by leaving the U.S., applying for an F-1 visa abroad, and then returning to the U.S., we urge you to meet with your international student adviser to discuss your plans and F-1 visa application considerations.

Important Note: Students in F-2 or B-2 status may not enroll in classes
until their change of status to F-1 is approved by the USCIS.