Paperwork needed for change of visa

So you wanna study in America returns with what paperwork you need to have to you know, study here. I know that this post has been anticipated for some time so today you finally get it! YAY!!

Here is a checklist of all the paperwork you will need to do and have in order to apply and study in America. This is a general one but it helped me a lot so I hope it helps you!

*NOTE: this is under the assumption that you are doing a change of status in the US and not traveling home to do it.* 


  1. Application form for your school. Remember that you need to indicate that you are an international student and to write your permanent home address in your home country as they need this to apply for your SEVIS I-20.
  2. Official transcripts. These need to be the ORIGINAL ones so you need to ask your parents to send it to you if you do not have it. This includes your high school one as well as any other college transcripts you have. In some colleges, you will have to translate it either into English or get it evaluated so that they can see the US equivalent of it.
  3. Proof of English proficency. This is only if your home country is not exempted from it. At my college, I was exempt from giving this information as I am from South Africa
  4. Bank statement and agreement of financial support. This is for whoever is sponsoring you. Your family back home? Your host family? A boyfriend? Each college is different but generally you have to have around $25000 of cash in the bank. This is to prove that they can support you if you are not able to pay for it yourself.
  5. Passport.
  6. Copies of current I-20/visa. This is if you are still in the states.
  7. Immunization forms. This is only needed right before you start school.

Once you have submitted your application to your school, they will accept you and apply for a new SEVIS I-20 and once they have that, you will be able to carry on with the application process.

Now that you have been accepted into the college and they have obtained your new I-20. You will have to complete your first step online by filling out the form: I-539 which you will fill out online. That is all online and then you will need to print it out for your records and for the “packet” you will need to create which you will then send to USCIS and pray that your visa gets accepted.

What goes into the “packet”? 

  1. Detailed letter requesting and explaining the need for your change of status.
  2. Form G-1145: e-Notification of application. This just gives you text messages about your application.
  3. Completed original I-539 form.
  4. Most recent I-94 record.
  5. Photocopy of proof of payment of the SEVIS fee (SEVIS I-901)
  6. Copy of your checks. You have to pay for finger printing as well as this application.
  7. Detailed evidence of financial support.
  8. Photocopy of the visa page and ID page in your passport.
  9. Copy of the signed I-20 from your school.
  10. Photocopy of ALL your DS-2019’s. I had a lot as I was an aupair previously.
  11. Proof of residency abroad. 

In the letter explaining why you want to change your status, it should include the following: 

  1. Be addressed to: “dear immigration services officer.”
  2. Explain what you are applying for (i.e change from J-1 to F-1)
  3. Explain why you are applying.
  4. Include a statement that you plan on returning home when your studies are done and how you plan on using your education to help your country.
  5. List all the contents of your application.
  6. Include your contact information and an original signature.

I hope all this information helps you and makes you feel more at ease when trying to navigate your application. It feels like there is A LOT of information and paperwork. I know itt can be really overwhelming, but it is doable. I will also have a copy of my personal letter as well as information on how to complete the form if you need it. You can email me for that and I will be happy to send it to you.

If you have any other questions that I have not already answered, please DM me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer them!

Check out my first blog on changing your status here! FAQ about changing your visa is here too.

FAQ: Going from a J-1 to F-1

Since my previous blog, I have gotten frequently asked questions that I did not answer in that blog, so today I will be trying to answer them! Please remember that every college is different and every state is different. I will be doing more posts as I get more information or if the information changes. My goal is to help people who want to change their status but cannot afford a lawyer. I would also like to state that this should not be the primary reason to why you come to Aupair. I am not encouraging anyone to come here just to change their status BUT I am here to provide you with information if you so choose to.

Can I work while studying?

The only work you are legally allowed to do is on your school campus. Your F-1 visa is only to study full time and work on your school campus for 20 hours per week. You cannot legally work with your host family or any other family.

Do I need a lawyer to do the process?

No, you do not. Most schools do recommend you using a lawyer as legally they cannot help you fill in the paperwork. I am however proof that you do not need a lawyer. I did not use one and I got my visa just fine!

Do you need to take the SAT’s?

Every school is different. The school that I initially applied to wanted me to have taken my SAT’s but the college I ended up at did not. What is also important to note, is that at my college the SAT’s that I took helped me with my placement at the school. Generally, you need to take a placement test to determine where you would be placed in English and Maths but with my scores, it placed me immediately.

Do you need to get your matric certificate/ high school diploma evaluated?

This yet again depends on your college. I personally did not and I am not sure how it works but I do know that you need to pay a lot to get it done which kind of sucks in my opinion. One of my friends paid about $300 for it.

Do I go for an interview at the embassy like I did for my J-1?

No, you do not. You send in your paperwork and pray you to get someone who is nice to approve of you. I am not joking. Pray bro.

Are you allowed to study while your visa is getting approved?

This also depends on your college. I was able to but opted out to just waiting to get my paperwork. This can help you as you can get a headstart on your studying.

Can I study part-time?

No. You have to be taking a minimum of 12 credits per semester. You are only allowed to take ONE class online and the rest has to be in person. This is very important to note. You are here on an F-1 and that requires you to study FULL TIME. 

Can I travel to and from my country while I am studying?

The short answer is yes, but naturally, like everything else. It is a little more complicated. You are able to go back home to visit but then you do have to apply at the embassy for an interview to get your visa in your passport. This is quite frustrating as I have only heard of girls getting rejected. It is basically the whole process all over again. So my suggestion is to do your schooling and then go home or get your family to visit you if possible. It is not the ideal situation so you would have to weigh out the pros and cons of the entire situation, unfortunately.

Who is paying for your studies?

This is a conversation you need to have with whoever is sponsoring you. I am personally paying for my own studies as I do not want to have anything being held over my head. This obviously is very dependent on your sponsor and what you want.

How long should I apply before my visa ends?

Changing your visa can take from 2-12 months, sometimes longer to get, so you should apply for a change of status as soon as you are able to. I applied right as my second year started so I would have 12 months for my visa to be approved. I did get it in 3 months which is great but that is considered VERY quick so you have to take that into account.

Like I said in the beginning, I will be posting more of these as I get more questions as well as changing the answers if they change! If you have any further questions, please email me or send me a DM on Instagram!

Read more about how I changed my status here.

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