Change Your Status
If you are currently 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.
Follow these steps if you need to change to F-1 or J-1 student status in order to pursue your degree at NYU:
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.
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 a 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.
Decide how to apply for a change of 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.
by remaining in the US
For some students, the risks of changing status while remaining in the US will outweigh any potential benefits; but for others, remaining in the US will be the better choice in seeking to change to F-1 status. See “Risks in Seeking to Change Status while Remaining in the US” below for more on this.
Submit a change of status application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the US, and do not travel outside of the US again until your change of status application has been approved. This option can take 12 months or more to be approved. Check the US government processing times. [You must select "I-539" for form type. For Field Office or Service Center, most of our students' applications go to the Vermont Service Center.]
In order for this option to work for you, you must not only be in status and eligible for F-1 status at the time you apply, you must also be able to maintain your current status for the time the application is pending and remain eligible for F-1 status at the time the application would be approved.
If a change of status application is not approved before the requested start date on the Form I-20, we will need to defer the start date to avoid your SEVIS record being cancelled. If the deferred start date is more than 30 days after the expiration of your current nonimmigrant status, you may have to separately apply to extend your current status before it expires; this is known as a "bridge" extension. Failure to do this can result in denial of your change of status request, and can also have further, more serious, and possibly permanent immigration consequences for you.
We recommend for you to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer with questions about procedures and how to maintain your current status (including the need to file a bridge extension) while your change of status application is pending. A helpful place to start is by contacting the NYU Immigrant Defense Initiative for an initial screening. The Immigrant Defense Initiative provides free consultations to members of the NYU community. Alternatively, you may choose to schedule a consultation with the private firms on a list we maintain at Global Services. You can contact us if you’d like us to send you our list.
Receive your admission letter from NYU.
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.
Complete your I-20 or DS-2019 Application.
Fill out the I-20/DS-2019 Application for Newly Admitted Students online. To access the application you will need to have your NYU ID number. This is the number you received from NYU that starts with "N" and is followed by 8 numbers, for example, N12345678. You will also need your NYUHome/email address password. Review the application checklist information to ensure you have all you need to successfully complete the online application.
In order to complete your application, you will need to have:
- A copy of your NYU admission letter (an electronic version is fine)
- A copy of the photo page of your passport
- Financial documents that prove you can pay for the estimated 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 page. You must be able to pay for your tuition, fees, health insurance, and living expenses while at NYU.
- You need to show proof that you can pay for the first year’s expenses. If your academic program is for less than a year, then provide proof that you can pay for all expenses for the duration of your program.
- The kinds of financial documentation we accept at the OGS include:
- Personal funds: a bank statement dated within the last six months.
- A personal loan: a pre-approval letter confirming amount for which the loan is approved. A loan application is not sufficient.
- An individual sponsor: the OGS Affidavit of Support plus a bank statement and/or letter from employer confirming annual salary and sponsor's position. (The sponsor's annual salary should be at least 3 times the amount of money they are providing to the student).
- If you will be staying somewhere where you will receive free room and board: you need to provide a letter from who you are staying with indicating the amount of support they will provide for you and the duration of time you will stay with them. The value of room and board is estimated to be $10,000 per year.
- An organizational sponsor: a copy of an award letter from a sponsoring organization specifying the amount of the award, its duration, and the terms of renewal, or NYU funding: a copy of an NYU award letter for an NYU scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship.
*You must be logged into your NYU email account in order to access the application. If you're logged into your NYU account and you still have problems, please:
- Make sure you have paid your tuition deposit to the NYU school you were admitted to.
- If you have paid the deposit, wait 2 business days and try to access the application again at that time.
- If you are still unable to access the application, please email email@example.com. Be sure to include your NYU ID number, NYU school of admission, and country of citizenship in your email message.
Save your application and supporting documents for your records.
Keep a photocopy of all documents for your records.
Receive your I-20/DS-2019.
Approximately 2 weeks after submitting a complete application, you will receive your I-20 or DS-2019.
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.
B. For those applying by remaining in the US
Submit your change of status application.
- If you are currently in H-1 or L-1 status, complete this checklist
- If you are currently in H-4 or L-2 status, complete this checklist
- If you are currently in A or G status, complete this checklist
- If you are currently in F-2 or any other status, complete this checklist
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, you MUST still obtain a new visa the next time you travel outside of the United States if you wish to reenter the U.S. 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.
You can now begin your studies with your I-20 or DS-2019. If you plan to travel outside of the US before you begin your program at NYU you can re-enter the US with your new transfer I-20 from NYU.
Read this Arrival Checklist to find out what you will need to do to begin your program at NYU as an international student.
If you are currently in the US in B-1 or B-1 status there is higher risk that your change of status application may NOT be approved. Please review this Change of Status Application Checklist carefully, paying special attention to the sample letter attached.
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)
You should contact the OGS in the following circumstances:
- If you need to leave the US after you submit your application for a change of status
- If USCIS contacts you requesting more information concerning your application
- If USCIS does not respond to your application within 3 months
- If your I-94 or other immigration documents have expired
- If you are in H-1B status but are no longer working for your H-1B sponsor
- If you believe you are out of status for any other reason
Risks in Seeking to Change Status while Remaining in the US
Recently, US policy changed regarding failure to continually maintain legal immigration status. This change could have major consequences if your change of status request is denied and you failed to maintain your current legal status throughout the change process. Please consult with an OGS advisor and a qualified immigration attorney regarding the risks associated with changing status while remaining in the US.