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International Office

F-2 to F-1 Change of Nonimmigrant Status

Contact the International Office as soon as you know you must obtain F-1 status in order to discuss your options. You cannot begin classes until you are in F-1 status, so it may be best to travel, apply for an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status to ensure that you will obtain F-1 status before your classes begin.


  1. Obtain an I-20 from the International Office. 
  2. Review your options for obtaining F-1 status. Decide which option to use: "Travel and Reentry" or "Change Status in the U.S."
  3. Prepare the required documents and follow next steps for obtaining F-1 status (details below).

Option 1: Travel and Reentry

Review the International Office Visas page. Plan your travel and F-1 visa appointment accordingly. You can enter the U.S. with your I-20 and F-1 visa no earlier than 30 days before the I-20 start date.

Option 2: Change of Status in the U.S.

Submit your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by mail.

Mail the following documents to the USCIS Lockbox

  • Form I-539
  • $370 fee: check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
    • You may also pay the filing fee with a credit card by completing form G-1450 and place the form on top of your application when filing. 
  • Original I-94 card or photocopy of admission stamp and paper printout of  I-94 record  
  • Photocopy of the visa page and identification page in your passport
  • Photocopy of your previous I-20 listing you as the dependent of your F-1 spouse or parent
  • Photocopy of your spouse's or parent's I-20 and I-94 card (front and back)
  • Photocopy of the signed I-20 Issued in your name by the school you plan to attend; ISSP will issue your I-20
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Detailed letter requesting and explaining the need to change status
  • Photocopy of proof of payment of SEVIS fee 


The regulations prohibit beginning a full course of study and working on campus until the change to F-1 status is approved.

F-1 status cannot begin earlier than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. You should submit your application several months in advance, and you must be able to maintain your current F-2 status until 30 days before the I-20 start date. If your F-2 status will expire prior to 30 days before your I-20 start date, your application will most likely be denied. Even though you are allowed to stay in the U.S. while the application is pending, if your application is likely to be denied, it will be better for you to travel, obtain an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status.

Your foreign, non-U.S. address must be listed in the permanent address field in the Fresno State student portal. If this field currently shows a U.S. address, please update your foreign address at or submit your foreign address to with your name and student ID number and we will update the student database in accordance with the F-1 regulations.