If you are in the US and hold an immigration status other than F-1, you may wish to change your status in order to qualify for benefits related to F-1 status (such as practical training). The easiest and quickest way to do that is to request a new initial form I-20, leave the US, obtain and F-1 visa, and reenter the US. You will be granted F-1 status at the Port of Entry and will, from that point on, need to follow all the requirements for maintaining F-1 status.
It is also possible to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a Change of Status without leaving the US. This can take many months. You will not be eligible for F-1 benefits until the COS is granted. Once it is granted, you will have F-1 status, but you will not have an F-1 visa. Therefore, the next time you leave the US, you will still need to obtain the F-1 visa in order to reenter the US in that status.
You can apply for a change to F-1 status from within the US if you:
- Are currently in A, G, B-1 or B-2, F-2, H-1B or H4, or J-1 or J-2 status
- Have been admitted to Maryville University
You cannot apply from within the US if you:
- Are in C, D, K, or M status
- Entered the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for business or tourism
- Are in J-1 or J-2 status and are subject to the 2-year home country physical presence requirement