Change of Non-Immigrant L-1/L-2 to F-1 Student Visa


What is the process to change from L-1/L-2 to F-1?

  1. Apply and receive acceptance from an SEVP-certified school (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). (Link to search: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search)
  2. Obtain an initial I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, from the school where you have applied and been accepted. The designated school official (DSO) should provide ‘change of status’ in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
  3. Pay the I-901 fee
  4. Complete and file form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with the USCIS. Listed below are the items that you will need to complete the I-539 application:
    • Check or Money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for the $370 fee.
    • Original or a photocopy (back and front) of your I-94 card
    • Photocopy of passport (identification and visa page)
    • Photocopy of signed I-20 issued in your name
    • Detail financial information to prove you can pay for your studies and support yourself and any dependent family members while you are in the US.
    • Documentation of your L2 status
    • Proof of you SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee is $200 paid online at https://fmjfee.com
    • A letter detailing the reason the student needs a change of status
      Some helpful information to include in the letter:
      • What did you tell the consular officer was your original purpose to visit the US?
      • What did you tell the immigration office upon your arrival was the purpose of your visit?
      • How and when did you make the decision to study in the US?
      • How and when did you first contact the school and when did you learn of your admittance?
      • If you did intend to study in the US before you came, then why didn’t you apply for an F-1 student visa rather than the B-2 visitor visa?
      • Have you been in the US before and why?
      • Do you have relatives in the US? And if they are not US citizens, what type of visas are they here on?
    • If you are an L-2 then you also need to include:
      Evidence of your relationship to the L intracompany transferee (birth certificate, marriage certificate, or proof of termination of any prior marriage)
      And at least one of the following:
      1. Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of the L intracompany transferee;
      2. A copy of the I-797 Receipt Notice related to the L intracompany transferee's already pending Form I-129 petition;
      3. A copy of the front and back of the L intracompany transferee's most recent Form I-94; or Form I-539 Instructions 04/06/15 N Page 6 of 16
      4. A copy of the I-797 Approval Notice showing the L intracompany transferee has already been granted status for the period requested on your application

Note: Changes from L-2 to F-1 must be accompanied by proof that the L-1 principal continues to work for the sponsoring company. If an L-1 desires to change to an F status, then the application needs to be submitted while still employed with the sponsoring company and with a valid academic or professional objective.

When should I apply to an SEVP-certified school?

You should submit your application several months in advance because you must maintain your status through the process of applying and admittance to the approved school. Your F-1 status must begin no earlier than 30 days before the start date of the academic program (I-20 start date). If your status expires prior to 30 days then the I-20 start date, then your application for a change of status will most likely be denied.

Can I get a job while I wait for my status change to F1?

No, you are not allowed to have any employment until your F-1 status is approved.

NOTE: Dependents of L intracompany transferees must apply for extension/change of status to L-2 using the I-539 form. An employer must file Form I-129 on behalf of the L intracompany transferee. Dependent spouses of L intracompany transferees may not work upon approval of this application. To request work authorization, the dependent spouse must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Dependent children of L intracompany transferees are not authorized for employment.

What address do I use for a permanent address?

You need to list your foreign, non-US address for a permanent address. The F-1 visa requires that you have an intent to return to your foreign home upon completion of your studies.