Change of Visa Status

To request a change of status, please click on the button below:



Please note that IEI advisors are not immigration attorneys and cannot provide legal advice regarding your immigration status. Recent changes to government policy have increased the complexity of the change of status process as well as the negative impact of losing status. Due to this, it is highly recommended that a student seek assistance from a qualified immigration attorney before filing any application, such as a change of status, with USCIS.

If you are changing your status to an F-1 visa, please see the information below:

  • Some students begin their studies as H-4, F-2, or in some other visa category. Then, they may transition over to the F-1 visa category. This means that they are not new students at The University of Memphis, but they are new F-1's.
  • Our office will still need to see a change of status for students when they start F-1 status, in the same way, that we need to see new international students who have recently entered the U.S. Please be sure to come to our office at the start of the semester for paperwork check-in purposes.
  • Check with our office to make sure that all the I-20 related items are in good standing before you begin classes.

To change F-1 visa status, the I-20 must be handled and processed in one of two ways:

    The I-20 can be used as part of a visa appointment, requesting the F-1 visa, and will take place at a US embassy or consulate outside of the US. If successful, an F-1 visa stamp will be placed in the passport. This will be an official visa and is used for crossing the border into the U.S.
    • This method requires departure from the U.S., then re-entry after the F-1 visa is issued.


    The I-20 can be used in a Change of Status application. In combination with form I-539, a packet is mailed to the U.S. government for processing. If successful, the student will receive permission to study full-time and will be subject to the individual F-1 rules and regulations as well. This method does not result in a true visa and is not useful for any future travel across the border. If you leave the US, you will need to apply at a US embassy or consulate for an F1 visa before re-entering the US. This method does not require departure from the U.S.; it can be done by mail and takes approximately 3-5 months. 

For more details, visit the official U.S. government website regarding the change of status at www.uscis.gov and use their onsite search to access the instructions and form for the "I-539".

Enter the U.S. Using a Different School's I-20

To lessen any potential problems upon arrival in the United States, you are encouraged to follow the guidelines below:

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will normally expect new students to enter using an I-20 with a school name that matches the school listed on the visa. (note: This is not expected for continuing students who have been inside the U.S. for multiple semesters, because it is normal for students to sometimes change schools.)
  • The school listed on your I-20 must release your SEVIS record online to The University of Memphis. This is true even if you have two I-20s, one from The U of M and one from the school listed on your visa page. Notice the SEVIS ID number on each I-20, located at the top of the cover page. That SEVIS number must stay consistent as you shift from the school listed on your visa to The University of Memphis.
  • The school listed on your I-20 may have a policy that requires you to attend classes there before they will release your record. If you are told that you must attend the school listed on your visa prior to their release of your SEVIS record, please let our office know as soon as possible iei@memphis.edu. Feel free to make a group e-mail, including both schools' international offices in your communications.
  • The University of Memphis can issue a new I-20 under the following circumstances: 1) Official, full admission to Intensive English for Internationals has been issued for the new session. 2) Updated financial documentation has been turned in to our office for I-20 purposes. 3) The previous school has released the SEVIS record in time for the student to register and begin studies during the regular start of the term.