Change of Status Students

Application deadlines

Change-of-status student deadlines

Change-of-Status applications are processed only for one semester at a time based on specific eligibility criteria.

The OISS&SA must receive your application on or before:

  • Fall Semester: July 1 (Workshop sessions start in May)
  • Spring Semester: November 11 (Workshop sessions start in September)
  • Summer Semester: April 1 (Workshop sessions start in February)

 

Apply to HCC: Change of Status

About Change of Status

This application is for applicants who are in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (for example B1/B2, H1) and wish to change their status to F-1. You must remain in the U.S until your application is adjudicated and, once approved, you will be subject to travel restrictions that do not apply for the regular F-1 students. You must be admitted into a full-time program of study at Houston Community College (HCC) and obtain the SEVIS Form I-20 from the Office of International Student Services & Study Abroad.

 

Step 1: Online Application, W and P numbers

If you already have an HCC student ID, go to Step 3 to register for a Change of Status Workshop. If this does not apply to you, begin at Step 1 below.

  1. Click on online application for Admissions  (In the case of an error message, choose a different browser)
  2. Go to “Start New Application"
  3. Select “F-1 International” application (the third option from the top) and click Next
  4. Enter your Names as they appear on your passport, Date of Birth, and your Email
  5. Set your Password (take a screenshot of the page and record your password)
  6. From “New Account Created” page, click “Continue” to go to F1 Application steps.
  7. Choose “Yes” to confirm that you are applying as F-1 student 
  8. Choose COS Student from “I am applying as”
  9. Select the Admit term/semester you want to start studying at HCC
  10. Complete all 9 steps of the application and submit
  11. You will receive your Conditional Approval Letter and an email with the next steps with your HCC student ID and your Assigned Number (starting with P)

Do not submit multiple applications! You need only one HCC student ID and we can work with you if you have to make changes. Multiple student IDs will slow your application process. Remember: You will keep the same User ID throughout your HCC career.

Tutorial - How to Complete the International Online Application

 

Step 2: Sign in to your HCC account

  • Navigate to the Student System Sign-In webpage:
  1. Visit www.hccs.edu
  2. Click the "MyEagle Student Sign-In" link found in the top left corner of the screen
  3. Select "Student Sign-In"
  4. You are now on the Student System Sign-In page.  You will need to re-visit this page often, so it is a good idea to save it as a favorite in your internet browser.
  5. Log in with your HCC Student ID number (W00000000) and your password previously created

If you need additional assistance with accessing your account, please visit http://www.hccs.edu/resources-for/current-students/student-system-help/ 

 

Step 3: Register for a Change of Status (COS) Workshop

Change of Status (COS) applicants should schedule an appointment for one of the COS workshop sessions.  The session covers all aspects of the COS process. Eligible applicants should present all documents listed in Step 4. The documents will be reviewed and collected by the Designated School Officials (DSO) during the workshop. The initial Change of Status SEVIS Form I-20 will be processed within 10 business days.

What You Need Before starting the registration:

  1. Your HCC ID
  2. The DATE listed on your I-94 as “admit until date”  OR your expected visa/status termination date (for work visas this will be the last day of their employment + 60-day grace period; for some dependents – the date of reaching the age limit.) You should be in status on or after December 22, 2019, or should have applied for an extension of your status in order to qualify for COS for the Spring 2020 session.
    • You can print out your I-94 at the following link: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. If you have a previous status change, you will use the I-94 on your latest COS approval notice.
  3. Visa type- on your I-94/ latest COS approval notice/ passport stamp
  4. If you have applied for/ or are in a process of applying for an extension or update of your current status, please indicate so in order to be able to continue with the registration. A receipt of the application for an extension should be presented at the workshop.

REGISTER for a Change of Status Workshop using the OISS Workshop Registration Form.

(If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the current sessions, you may consider applying for an extension of your current status or leaving the country and applying as a NEW student.)

Workshop rules:

  • You can schedule only one appointment at a time – multiple appointments will be monitored and canceled.
  • Late arrivals are not allowed, so plan to come at least 30 minutes in advance to have time for parking and locating the workshop room.
  • No children are allowed during the sessions (Secure a babysitter for your children in advance)
  • Session slots are limited. Therefore OISS&SA reserves the right to evaluate the need for an interpreter

 

Step 4: Prepare Documents and Attend the assigned COS Workshop

 You will receive an email from HCC Forms with details about your Change of Status Workshop.

Bring ALL the documents that are required by OISS&SA for issuing your SEVIS Form I-20 to the information session. 

  1. Complete and sign the  SEVIS Form I-20 Application‌  Note: Type the information online and then print and sign it.
  2. Complete and sign Legal Waiver and Release Form
  3. Passport photocopy (biometric page only)*
  4. Copy of visa (or Change of Status approval notice I-797)*
  5. I-94 Departure Record (both sides of the card or print out your I-94 at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home)*
  6. Financial Documentation (UCSIS Expects COS applicants to provide evidence for financial support covering the full amount shown on the Form I-20: $22,980 for the primary holder and $4,400 for each dependent.)
  7. Application Fee Payment Form (attach a copy of the receipt/ or check /or money order payable to HCCS to the form)
  8. Print the COS Checklist - Documents for OISS&SA and arrange all documents in order with the Checklist Form on top

* Provide this document for all dependents (spouse/ children under 21) who are changing status with you, as well as marriage and birth certificates. This is also required for the primary visa holder if your current status is based on her/his visa. All supporting documents should be in English or translated into English.

Pay the non-refundable application fee of $75.

How to pay the fee: 

Online payments (preferred): You can pay the fee online using a credit card, check routing number or funds transfer from your local bank. For online payments, refer to the International Payment Tutorial (Flywire) for instructions. Please note that you must have completed Step 1 and Step 2 before you can make a payment online. Alternatively, you can pay the fee at any HCC campus and save the receipt.

Note: The payment term and entrance term may vary when paying the fee online. This is not a problem as the payment can be tracked by date.

 

Step 5: Receive your COS SEVIS form I-20 from OISS

Once the SEVIS Form I-20 is processed, you will receive an email or phone call from our office. You will sign and receive the original copy of your I-20.  We strongly recommend you bring the Change of Status mailing packet for review by the Designated School Official (DSO). (See Step 7)

 

Step 7: Send your COS package to USCIS - See the Mailing checklist with $85 Biometrics Fee

Starting March 22, 2019, USCIS will accept only the new (02/04/2019) version of Form I-539 and Form I-539A, which require each applicant and co-applicant (dependent) to pay an additional $85 biometrics fee, and attend an appointment that will be scheduled at a USCIS Applicant Support Center (ACS) where biometrics such as fingerprints will be collected. The new Form I-539A takes the place of the Form I-539 Supplement A of prior versions, for applications involving multiple individuals such as family members.

 

 

Step 8: Obligations to OISS&SA as a change-of-status applicant

On February 6, 2018, USCIS revised their special instructions on filing "bridge applications" for prospective students applying for a change of status to F-1 student.

An applicant changing to F-1 student status from any nonimmigrant category must file a separate "bridge" I-539 application if needed to extend their nonimmigrant status while their change of status (COS) request is pending with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  You must remain in status within the 30-day period before the start date of each semester by filing an additional “bridge” Form(s) I-539 for an extension.

Your Form I-539 applications seeking to extend your nonimmigrant status should request sufficient time to bridge the gap between the date your status expires and at least a 30-day period before your new F-1 program start date. If you request an extension of B-1 or B-2 status, each Form I-539 application should have your request in six-month increments only, per federal regulations 8CFR 214.2(b)(2).

The new guidance now also mentions the possibility of filing a "bridge change of status" application rather than a "bridge extension of stay" application, which could be useful in cases where the applicant is not eligible for an extension of their current status (e.g., an H-4 dependent who will be "aging out" of eligibility for H-4 status, an H-1B employee whose employment has ended, a J-1 exchange visitor whose program has ended, etc.). However, there would be a catch-22 if the applicant is already studying and asks to change to B-2 status, as a study is prohibited in B status. Cases like this should be handled by an immigration lawyer. Please visit https://hlrs.org  or call 713-237-9429  or 1-800-289-4577.

If your change of status request is not approved in time for the semester indicated on your initial SEVIS Form I-20, the Office of International Student Services & Study Abroad (OISS&SA) will defer your Form I-20 start date to each immediate semester until a decision is made by USCIS.

Designated School Officials (DSOs) will not provide guidance on the Form I-539 bridge extensions, as this is outside of their area of expertise. Students may file a bridge I-539 application independently or through an experienced immigration lawyer who can advise on all aspects of any change of status application and other matters related to the personal immigration status of the student.

For further reading, please read the Current Version of USCIS's COS to F-1 Guidance.

 

 

Examples from Requests for Evidence (RFE) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

REQUEST FOR EVIDENCE (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

(Usually, the maximum period allowed for responding is 30 days from the date on the letter)

 You may need to consult with an immigration lawyer. Please visit https://hlrs.org  or call 713-237-9429  or 1-800-289-4577.

  • Documentary Evidence of Current Finances

 

You are required to show that you have the financial means to pay for the course of study as indicated on your SEVIS Form I-20. In addition, you must substantiate that you will have the financial ability to pay for your course of study and living expenses for the entire period of study as indicated on your Form I-20.

Submit the last three (3) months of original bank statements (translated in English) that include all deposits and withdrawals to include explanations as evidence that you are able to provide immediate funds for your first year of study, as well as an ability to provide this support throughout the duration of your study.

If you submit documentation that includes foreign currency, calculate the value in U.S. Dollars and include evidence of the source for the currency conversion exchange rate.

 

  • Banks Outside of the United States

     

You submitted foreign financial records for your personal bank account (XXX Bank). Indicate how you access the funds while in the United States. If the funds will be transferred to an account in the United States, including three (3) months of bank statements for those accounts that show all deposits and withdrawals for the account.

Note: Any financial records you submit need to include the full name of the account holder and the address of the bank.

 

  • Documentary Evidence of Return Ticket

 

Submit evidence to establish that you have made arrangements to depart the United States upon completion of your temporary stay in the United States. Such evidence includes an airline ticket or other transportation ticket or evidence that you have the funds necessary to secure your departure from the United States.

 

  • Documentary Evidence of Residence Abroad

 

Regulations require that an F-1 student establish that he/she has a residence in a foreign country, which he or she has no intention of abandoning, is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study. Submit documentation to establish that you have a foreign residence where you intend to reside upon expiration of your F-1 status. Such documentation includes current telephone bills, current utility bills, current mortgage statements, current rental agreements, current rent receipts, etc.

  • Impact on Foreign Employment

Submit statement explaining any effect the extended stay may have on your foreign employment.

 

  • Initial Contact

 

Submit a letter from your international student advisor setting forth the date the school was first contacted on your behalf and the date you filed your application for admission to the school.

 

  • Applicants with Previous F-1 and F-2 Student Records

 

Explain in detail the previous school filings. Provide a detailed statement explaining why you did not apply for a change of status to F-1 and F-2 while you were outside of the United States. Moreover, why you did not go to the U.S. Embassy to apply for F-1 and F-2 visas but entered the U.S. as tourists.

 

  • Statement to Customs and Border Protection

 

Provide a statement that answers the following questions: When you were admitted to the United States, did you disclose to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer that you were seeking to study? If not, provide an explanation of why you did not disclose that possibility.

 

  • Reason for Most Recent Entry into the United States

 

Submit a detailed statement describing your activities in the United States prior to applying for a change of status to F-1. Include any traveling, visiting friends or relatives, and/or any other tourist activitiesSubmit documentation such as travel or accommodation receipts to add weight to the merits of your statement.

Note: Statements alone may be insufficient to establish eligibility and should be accompanied by any available supporting documentary evidence.

 

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Application

 

A review of the official records reveals that an immigrant petition has been filed for you. However, as per the instruction of the Form I-539, the record does not show that you provided a description of the circumstances described and explained on a separate piece of paper.  As per this instructions, provide a statement that describes the circumstances and your intent in detail on filing Form I-130. Submit a copy of the I-797, Notice of Action for I-130 Petition for Alien Resident listing you as the beneficiary.

 

  • Purpose of Course of Study

 

Submit a detailed statement to explain how your proposed course of study will benefit your current career path and goals. Also, included a detailed statement to explain the effect of your proposed change of status on your foreign employment and residency.

 

  • Evidence of Intent to Depart

 

Submit a statement in which you describe your intention concerning departure from the United States upon completion of your proposed study.

 

  • Translation and Currency

 

If you submit documents that include foreign currency denominations, please calculate their value in U.S. dollars. Please include evidence of the source for the currency conversion exchange rates. If you submit a document in any language other than English, you must include a full English translation. The translator must certify that the translation is complete and accurate and that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language to English. Official extracts are acceptable, but only if they contain all the information necessary to make a decision on the case. Only extracts prepared by an authorized official (the “keeper of the record”) are acceptable. A summary of a document prepared by a translator is unacceptable.

 

  • Affidavit of Support

 

If you have a sponsor, your sponsor should submit a notarized statement or affidavit of support specifying the intended type and amount of financial contributions he or she will make on your behalf to cover your various costs (such as tuition and school expenses, room and board, living expenses, medical expenses, health insurance, etc.). Your sponsor should submit documentary evidence demonstrating that he or she is able to provide immediate funds to cover expenses associated with your first year of study. In addition, your sponsor should provide evidence of his or her ability to fund your tuition and living expenses for the duration of the course of study. Such supportive evidence may include but is not limited to, current employment records, tax records, business records, property records, etc.

 

  • Ability to Read and Understand English Language

 

You are asking to study English as a Second Language (ESL) as indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20, and you indicate on Part 5 of the I-539 Application (Applicants Statement): “I can read and understand each and every question of the form, as well as my answer to each question.” If you can read and understand English, please explain why you are seeking ESL training.