Obtain F-1 or J-1 Status
If you are presently in the United States in a non-immigrant status (such as H-4, A-1, or L-2 status), you may be able to study in your current status. Find out if you can study at NYU under your current status.
You may, however, want or need to change to F-1 or J-1 status in order to complete your degree at NYU. If you do decide you want to change your status, you’ll find a general overview of the process below. It’s best to discuss your situation with an immigration attorney to help determine the status that is best for you and your available options based on your immigration history and future plans in the United States.
The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, NYU OGS may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.
Please note, these directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Department of State ultimately provides the decision on your visa application, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your change of status application.
Understand the Process
Read all the steps in this process carefully to determine how you will obtain F-1 or J-1 status and which status you will change to. And remember, it’s best to discuss your situation with an immigration attorney to determine which way to obtain the status that will be best for you.
To be eligible for NYU sponsorship of F-1 or J-1 student status, you need to be accepted to a full-time academic program at NYU and have an official admission notice, along with an NYU University ID number. If you are not yet admitted to NYU and have questions about how to apply, please visit NYU Admissions.
There are two ways that you can obtain F-1 or J-1 status:
- By first applying for an I-20 or DS-2019 from OGS at NYU, departing the United States, and then reentering the United States in F-1 or J-1 status, or
- By first applying for an I-20 or DS-2019 from OGS at NYU and then filing a change of status application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the United States, remaining in the United States until the approval or denial is received.
If you are currently in the US in B-1 or B-2 status there is higher risk that your change of status application may NOT be approved.
If any of the following apply to you, you cannot apply for a change of status within the US:
- You are currently in the US under the "visa waiver" program
- You are currently in the US as a J-1 exchange visitor or a J-2 dependent and are subject to the 2-Year Home Residency Requirement
- You are currently in the US, but are in violation of your current immigration status (e.g., because your I-94 expired or you have remained beyond your authorized period of stay in the US.)
How to Apply
Step 1: Get the I-20 or DS-2019 from OGS
Step 1a: Decide Which Status is Right for You
In order to study at NYU, you will need to obtain a student status for the US. NYU sponsors international students for either F-1 or J-1 student status.
What is F-1?
F-1 status is the most common type of status used to study in the United States. F-1 status is for full-time academic and language students who are pursuing a degree or certificate. If you decide on F-1 status, you will need to apply for an I-20.
If you plan to bring your spouse with you, he or she will need to obtain an F-2 dependent I-20 from NYU. F-2 dependents may NOT work in the US and may NOT enroll in school.
What is J-1?
In order to be a J-1 student at NYU, at least half of your funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds. If you decide on J-1 status, you will need to apply for a DS-2019.
If you plan to bring your spouse with you, he or she will need to get a J-2 dependent DS-2019 from NYU. Please note that J-2 dependents may apply for work permission and may study in the US.
212(e) Home Residency Requirement
Some students in J-1 status are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. The two-year home residency requirement specifies that an individual who is subject must spend a total of two years in their home country before being eligible for the these visa statuses in the US:
- Any H status (including H-1B or H-4)
- Any L status (including L-1 or L-2)
- US lawful permanent residence
In addition, if you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, you may not apply to the US government for a change of status to any status (including F, B, or any other status). Instead, individuals who are subject to the requirement may exit the US, apply for a new visa abroad (for any status other than H, L, or lawful permanent resident), and reenter the US in the new status.
DS-2019s are issued based on cumulative funding. We will issue your document based on each full year of funding you show. For students who can show only one year's worth of funding, we will issue a DS-2019 to cover one year. For each subsequent year, a student must show additional funding to extend their program end date.
By federal law, J-1 students must have adequate health insurance for both themselves and their dependents.
Minimum insurance requirements:
- medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- payment for repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- payment for medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $50,000
- a deductible not to exceed $500 per illness or accident
J-1s have a special type of employment authorization called Academic Training which is for both paid and unpaid work off-campus.
Step 1c: Complete Your I-20 or DS-2019 Application
If you are unable to access this form, please email email@example.com with a copy of your current I-94/visa and we can update our records to provide you form access.
- A letter from your academic department on department letterhead that indicates your anticipated completion date and the number of your remaining credits
- A copy of the photo page of your passport
- A copy of the I-94 record reflecting your current immigration status
- Financial documents that prove you can pay for the full tuition and living expenses at NYU. To see the amount of money you will need to show for one year of your academic program visit this estimated expenses webpage. You must be able to pay for your tuition, fees, health insurance, and living expenses while at NYU.
Note: If you have dependents who need F-2 or J-2 status, please find more information on bringing family in F-2 or J-2 status.
Approximately 2 weeks after submitting a complete application, you will receive your I-20 or DS-2019 if your application is approved. If additional information is needed from you, we will email you.
After receiving your I-20 or DS-2019 from OGS, if you change your mind on how you will obtain your F-1 or J-1 status (for example, you indicated you would be traveling outside of the US and you are now planning to apply for a change of status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States) you MUST contact OGS as you will need a new I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect your current plans.
Step 2: Pay the SEVIS fee.
Once you’ve received your I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to pay a SEVIS fee. In order to pay, complete the Form I-901 along with the payment via mail or the Internet (dependents in F-2 or J-2 status are not required to pay the fee). The SEVIS fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to a visa interview or the filing of the change of status application in the US.
Step 3: Get F-1 or J-1 Status
Remember, if you change your mind on how you will obtain your F-1 or J-1 status (for example, when you applied for your I-20/DS-2019 you indicated you would be traveling outside of the US and you are now planning to apply for a change of status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States) you MUST contact OGS as you will need a new I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect your current plans.
Option 1: Obtain Status by Reentering the US
Travel outside of the US, get an F-1 or J-1 visa, and reenter using the new visa. This option would allow you to immediately have F-1 or J-1 status when you reenter the US. It also gives you the visa you will need for any future entry to the US.
Once you successfully reenter the US as an F-1 or J-1 student, complete the OGS arrival form. We will review your documents and remind you of requirements you must fulfill as an international student in F-1 or J-1 status.
Option 2: Obtain Status by Filing a Change of Status Application with USCIS and Remaining in the US
In order for this option to work for you, you must be in status and eligible for F-1 or J-1 status at the time you apply.
Please note that applying for a change of status in the US leads ONLY to a change in your immigration status. You will NOT obtain a new entry visa by this method. If you receive a change of status while remaining in the US, you MUST still obtain a new visa the next time you travel outside of the United States if you wish to reenter as an F-1 or J-1 student.
Getting approval for a change to F-1 or J-1 status is NOT a guarantee that you will get an F-1 or J-1 visa when you apply at an embassy or consulate outside of the US. It also carries some risks if your change of status request is delayed too long or is denied.
Step 3a: Discuss Your Change of Status Application with an Immigration Attorney
In particular, you will want to meet with an experienced immigration attorney if you are unable to maintain your current nonimmigrant status until your change of status application is received by USCIS. You will also want to find legal help if you have previously filed a permanent resident application or if you have had a previous arrest or other interaction with US law enforcement.
Step 3b: Submit Your Change of Status Application to USCIS
USCIS Application Checklist (the final checklist will be determined in consultation with your lawyer)
Minimally, your application to USCIS will need to include:
- A copy of your new I-20 or DS-2019 from NYU (also signed by you) that specifies your intent to change your status within the US via USCCIS
- A copy of your SEVIS fee receipt
- 2 separate checks or money orders for $370 and $85 made out to “US Department of Homeland Security”
- Completed form G-1145
- Completed form I-539
- A copy of your passport ID page
- A copy of your current I-94 record
- A copy of your latest/current visa
- A copy of your admission letter from NYU
- A copy of your financial documents
- Evidence that you have maintained lawful status while in the US prior to submitting your application for change of status
- A letter of explanation for why you would like to change your status to F-1 or J-1. This letter should clearly explain:
- Your current status
- Why you entered the US in that status and not in student status
- How your plans have changed since entering the US, so that you now want to study full-time in F-1 or J-1 student status
- Your plan for study at NYU
- Your long-term, non-immigrant plans after you finish your studies in the US
- Your ties to your home country
- The date you want your F-1 or J-1 status to be effective
- Your current status
Step 3c: Notify OGS with Any Update or Change to Your Change of Status Application
- Once you have been issued an initial receipt notice from USCIS, please email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. OGS will need to maintain your initial SEVIS record status until the Change of Status is approved.
- Once your petition has been approved, please also email a copy of the approval receipt notice to email@example.com. OGS will need to add the Change of Status approval to your SEVIS record and issue you an updated I-20.
Step 3d (Final Step): Apply for Your F-1 or J-1 Visa the Next Time You Leave the US
If and when you travel outside of the US, get an F-1 or J-1 visa, and reenter using the new visa.