Change of Visa Status

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If you’re currently in the United States on a B-1/B-2 Visa and would like to become a student at Columbia West College, you’ll need to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status and provide evidence to explain why you’ve changed your primary purpose for coming to the United States.

In general, you’re eligible to apply for a change of status if:

  1. You entered the United States legally with a valid visa and your status hasn’t expired when USCIS receives your application.
  2. You haven’t violated the conditions of your status. For example, you may not begin your studies at Columbia West College as a full-time student before receiving approval from USCIS regarding your change of status or engage in unauthorized employment. If you fail to maintain your status, you risk being deported or being barred from returning to the United States.
  3. You have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Begin the process as soon as possible, preferably at least 45 days before your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) expires. You can find your authorized status and status expiration date by visiting and entering your information.
  2. Apply to Columbia West College
    1. You can complete an application form:
      • Online
      • By downloading the form and faxing, mailing or emailing it to us at:
        Columbia West College
        3435 Wilshire Blvd., Ste #1700
        Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA
        Fax: (213) 368-3903
      • In-person at our campus
    2. Provide a copy of your university or high school diploma, GED certificate or equivalent OR transcript
    3. Provide copies of your financial statement(s). Acceptable financial statements include tax returns and bank statements. Your financial statement(s) must be dated within the last 3 months and show a balance of at least $4,500 for a 3-month Form I-20, $9,000 for a 6-month Form I-20 and $18,000 for a 1-year Form I-20.
    4. Provide a copy of your passport
    5. Pay your application fee of $100 (non-refundable)We offer 4 convenient payment options to choose from:
      • PayPal: Go to our online payment page, where you can pay with PayPal.
      • Credit Card: You can give us your credit card information over the phone by calling (213) 368-3900. You can also fill out our Credit Card Payment Form, and send it to us by mail, fax or e-mail. We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
        Columbia West College
        3435 Wilshire Blvd., Ste #1700
        Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA
        Fax: (213) 368-3903
      • Check or International Money Order: Personal checks drawn on a U.S. bank are accepted, although cashier’s checks are preferred. You can usually get an international money order from your local post office or bank. Mail your check or money order to Columbia West College, 3435 Wilshire Blvd., Ste #1700 Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA.
      • Bank Wire Transfer: Contact us for details if you want to wire your payment to our bank account. Please remember that you’re responsible for paying all wire transfer fees.
      • Cash: You can pay by cash if you visit Columbia West College in person.
  3. Pick up your documents. Once we receive your payment, we will contact you to pick up the documents you’ll need to apply for a change of status with USCIS (Form I-20 and your welcome packet, which includes your official acceptance letter). If you prefer, we can also mail your documents to you. Documents sent via express mail will incur an additional charge.
  4. Pay your SEVIS fee. Visit the SEVIS I-901 fee website to learn more about the SEVIS I-901 fee and make your payment online. Follow the instructions carefully, and please be sure to print out and keep a copy of the receipt for your records.
  5. Complete your Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status). Don’t forget to sign the application on page 3. Be sure to include the following supporting documents:
    1. Application processing fee of $290 (Check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”)
    2. Copies of the visa and identification pages in your passport. Your passport must be valid for the entirety of your stay in the U.S., including the period of time covering your new status
    3. Copy of Form I-94
    4. Original Form I-20 issued by Columbia West College (Be sure to sign your Form I-20)
    5. Evidence of your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the U.S., such as tax returns and bank statements, or completed Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support), if someone is sponsoring your studies.
    6. Copy of Form I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt.
    7. Cover letter providing the following information:
      1. Request for your change of status and description of the status you currently hold (B-1/B-2). You must also explain:
        • What was your purpose of entry to the U.S. under your B-1/B-2 status (what did you tell the consular officer was the purpose of your visit to the U.S. during the visa interview and upon entry to the U.S., what did you tell the Customs and Border Protection officer was the purpose of your visit to the U.S.)?
        • What status are you applying to change to (F-1)?
      2. What have you doing since you arrived in the U.S.?
      3. If your intention was to attend school prior to your entry into the U.S., why did you apply for the B-2 instead of the F-1? (if applicable)
      4. When, why and how have your goals/intentions changed after arriving in the U.S.? In particular, what happened after you arrived in the U.S. that made you decide to become a student at Columbia West College? How will your studies at Columbia West College help prepare you for a career back home?
      5. How and when did you first contact Columbia West College, and when were you informed you had been admitted?
      6. How will you support yourself financially while attending Columbia West College?
      7. Have you been in the U.S. before? When and for what purpose?
      8. Do you have any relatives in the U.S.? If so, what types of visas do they hold?
      9. Please demonstrate evidence of strong ties to your home country and/or that your extended stay would be temporary, including any effect the extended stay may have on your foreign employment or residency. You should also describe what plans you have made to depart from the U.S. permanently.
  6. Make a copy of your complete application for your personal records, and send your application by Certified Mail (return receipt requested), Express Mail or courier. The addresses are:applychang_table If you want e-mail and/or text notification that your application has been accepted, complete and attach a Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance) to the first page of your application. E-Notification is only available for forms filed at a USCIS Lockbox facility.
  7. USCIS review of application. Processing times vary at each service center. Check the USCIS website for current processing times. If your application is approved, USCIS will update your SEVIS record to reflect your change of status, send you a Form I-797 Notice of Approval and issue you an updated Form I-94. If your application is denied, please be prepared to leave the United States immediately.
  8. Please contact Columbia West College if USCIS has not approved your change of status at least 15 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, so we can defer your program start date. Not deferring your program start date may result in termination of your SEVIS record, a serious violation of immigration status and a denial of your change of status application.

Do not assume your change of status has been approved until you receive an approval notice from USCIS

  1. Reasons your application for change of status may be denied
    1. The USCIS adjudicating officer finds grounds to believe that you initially entered the United States without disclosing your intent to become a prospective student.
    2. Your B-1/B-2 status will expire sooner than 30 days before your I-20 program start date. Because F-1 status cannot begin earlier than 30 days before the start date on your I-20, you must be able to maintain your current B-1/B-2 status until 30 days before the I-20 start date. You may want to file for an extension of your current status if there’s a chance that your status will expire while the change of status application is pending with USCIS. Your B-1/B-2 status must be valid when USCIS receives your application and must continue to be valid up until the date that your F-1 status is requested to begin.If USCIS determines that the change would be approved more than 30 days in advance of the program start date, there is a chance the application could 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 re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.
  2. Remember, a change of status is not a change of visa! If USCIS approves your change of status application, you can stay in the U.S. as long as you follow the F-1 rules. However, if you want to travel abroad and return to the United States, you’ll likely need to get an F-1 visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
  3. Travel abroad while a change of status application is pending is considered to be an abandonment of the application and will affect your SEVIS record. If you need to leave the U.S. while your application is pending, contact Columbia West College for instructions on how to cancel the pending change of status application and obtain a new or amended Form I-20 for travel.

This information is provided for your convenience only and is subject to change. Please refer to the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.