Applying for a visa in the U.S. is commonly referred to as “changing visa status,” since an applicant must be in a legal U.S. visa status in order to be eligible to apply for another visa status while remaining in the United States.
To apply for a visa while remaining in the United States, an applicant must:
There are several differences in this process as compared to applying from abroad:
Below is a detailed list of the application materials and steps necessary to apply for a change of visa status within the U.S. This information is available in a printer-friendly format here: Changing Visa Status in the US (PDF, 155KB).
Required Documentation and Procedure:
The first step with applying for a change of visa status is to be admitted to Madison College. The visa application process cannot be started until after admission has been finalized, so it is important to apply for admission several months before the desired semester of study to allow sufficient time to apply for the visa. Please also consider the admission application deadlines. All new international students are required to attend International Orientation, so plan to be on campus at that time. After you have been admitted, you will receive an I-20 form, which must be mailed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the following items:
After making copies for your records, mail all items with "return receipt" requested to one of the following address:
If using the U.S. Postal Services:
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
If using an express mail or courier service:
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
While Your Application Is Pending
Save your “return receipt” as proof of when you mailed your application to USCIS. The USCIS will later send you an official Receipt Notice acknowledging your application and fee. Keep all these documents for your records.
If your current visa status does not permit study, you should not begin studying until your status to F-1 has been approved. You are not eligible to receive any benefits of the F-1 status (such as on-campus work permission) until the F-1 status has been granted. If your change of status has not been approved by the term in which you had hoped to begin studying, please discuss deferring your admission with International Student Services.
If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending, the USCIS will consider your application abandoned and will no longer review your application. If you depart the U.S. after the “date certain” expiration date given to certain visa types (such as B-2, B-1, H-1B, H-4, etc.), this abandonment could seriously affect your eligibility in future visa applications, as you can be seen as overstaying your previously granted period of stay.
After Receiving Your Approval Notice*
USCIS will mail you notification of the change. The approval (and its effective date) will be stamped on the I-20 in the upper right corner and on the I-797 Notice of Approval; your revised I-94 card will also note the approved status.
After receiving the I-797 Notice of Approval, please bring your approval notice (which includes the new I-94 card in the bottom right corner) and stamped I-20 to the Center for International Education, as we must update your record in the college database. Failure to do this may jeopardize your new visa status.
If you were previously in a dependent visa status, the principal visa holder will need to update his/her records. For example, if your spouse is an F-1 or J-1 student at Madison College or another institution, your spouse must request your F-2 or J-2 record be canceled and removed from his/her I-20.
If you have questions on this process or if the change of status is denied, please contact International Student Services to discuss available options.
For information on how to apply for a non-immigrant student visa abroad, rather than changing visa status in the U.S., please refer to Applying for Student Visa Abroad.