1. Before you are eligible to apply for an I-20 you must have already been admitted to Temple University.
  2. You should complete and submit an I-20 application. You must let ISSS know if you plan to travel outside the U.S. or if you would rather file a Change of Status. Please read the information in the Change of Status section very carefully, so you can make an informed decision.
  3. ISSS will contact you when your application for an I-20 is complete. You can either pick up the I-20 for travel OR schedule an appointment for a change of status.
  4. Please let us know before the I-20 is issued whether you will travel or apply for a change of status in the U.S. The I-20 has to be issued specificically for either travel or a change of status.

If you decide to submit a COS application in the U.S., submit the following materials with your application for an I-20:

  1. Completed Form I-539 signed in blue ink .
  2. Proof of academic registration for next available semester if you are eligible (F-2s and B-2s should NOT register).
  3. Personal check, certified bank check (preferable) or a money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for US $420.00
    • Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
    • Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee each, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the Form I-539 Instructions.
    • Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.
  4. A statement to USCIS explaining why you wish to change your status. See instructions on how to write a statement letter.
  5. Legible copy of the biographical and visa page(s) of your passport, the visa on which you last entered the U.S., the most recent U.S. admission stamp in your passport, and Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Card). Do not submit copies of blank passport pages or copies of entry stamps to countries other than the U.S.
  6. Copies of any other documentation submitted to or received from the USCIS.
  7. Copy of marriage/birth certificate if you are in a dependent status (F-2, H-4, L-2, etc.).
  8. Proof that primary visa holder is maintaining their status. This might include a statement from the primary's employer plus copies of recent pay stubs and I-94 card if s/he is in H-1 or L-1 status or copies of the F-1's transcripts and enrollment verification if you are in F-2 status.

After you receive the new I-20/DS-2019 from ISSS you will need to pay the SEVIS Fee online. You will not be able to pay this fee until ISSS has issued you an I-20/DS-2019. Include proof of payment with your COS application. Please provide ISSS with a copy of your payment.

ISSS is happy to answer any questions concerning your application during your appointment. However, please prepare as much as you can before meeting with us. Often students need a second appointment to finish the COS application.

A change of status from another nonimmigrant visa to nonimmigrant student (F-1 or J-1) currently takes between six and eleven months to process. You may and should stay in the U.S. while awaiting a reply. You may attend classes ONLY if you hold a status that allows you to do so (such as H-4). Moreover, you are required to maintain your current status until you receive an answer from the USCIS.

You are not considered eligible for benefits of the requested status until the COS application has been approved by the USCIS. This means that you may not begin working on campus until the COS has been approved.

Once an application for change to nonimmigrant student (F-1) status has been approved, you must register for and successfully complete full-time enrollment during the remainder of your stay at Temple University, beginning the first available semester after approval of the application.

If a Change of Status is granted:

The USCIS will send you a Notice of Action (Form I-797A), a new Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure card), and the relevant pages of the Form I-20. The Form I-797A and the Form I-20 will indicate "Change of Status granted on DATE from YOUR CURRENT STATUS to F-1 - D/S." Even though the Change of Status is granted inside the U.S., it does not grant you a new visa. Rather, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate outside of the United States to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.

If your application for a change of status is denied:

The USCIS will send you a Notice of Action (Form I-797A) which may indicate a VOLUNTARY DEPARTURE date. In this case, you will need to request a new Form I-20 from ISSS before you leave the U.S. if you intend on returning to the U.S. to pursue studies at Temple University. You will need to apply for a visa outside the U.S. to return in valid F-1 status. Please schedule an appointment with an immigration advisor in ISSS as soon as possible so they can discuss strategies with you.

Change from Exchange Visitor (J-1) status to Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) status

If you hold J-1 status, you may only apply for a change of status within the United States if you are NOT subject to the two-year home residency requirement. If you are subject to the requirement, you must receive a waiver of the requirement before applying for a change of status within the U.S. Exchange Visitor who is subject may leave and apply for an F-1 visa outside the U.S., re-entering in F-1 status. Individuals with questions about Exchange Visitor (J-1) status should consult with one of the immigration advisors in ISSS.