Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long must I maintain my current immigration status?

You must maintain your current non-immigrant status until at least 30 days prior to the report date listed on the I-20/DS-2019 AND until a Receipt Notice issued by USCIS has been received.

2. How long will my Change of Status (COS) application take?

Check the Case Status Online and Processing Times page of the USCIS website to determine current processing times. Applications usually take three to four months to process from the date of the Receipt Notice.

3. Can I leave the U.S. with a pending COS application?

If you depart the U.S. while the COS application is pending, you are considered to have abandoned the COS application. Departure from the U.S. without the COS approval will result in a cancellation of the application. You would need to exit and re-enter to the U.S. after obtaining a U.S. visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

4. Can I leave the U.S. after receiving the approval notice for the COS?

Individuals may remain in the U.S. after the COS has been approved. If you leave the U.S., you must apply for and receive a visa stamp in your passport to be able to re-enter the U.S. in the new status.

5. What if I haven't received the COS approval by the start of classes?

This depends on your current status:

  • Individuals currently in the U.S. in a status that permits full-time study (including, but not limited to H-1B, H-4, TD and J-2) may begin attending classes on the scheduled I-20/DS-2019 start date, even if the COS has not yet been granted, provided that the individual has received the COS Receipt Notice from USCIS.  
  • Individuals currently in the U.S. in a status that does not permit full-time study (including, but not limited to, B-1/B-2 and F-2) may not attend classes until the COS has been approved and the Approval Notice has been received.

Contact the International Office if you have not received your approval notice two weeks prior to the I-20/DS-2019 start date.

6. What should I do after I receive the COS approval notice?

Once the COS application has been approved you must again check-in at the International Office. Bring your passport, I-20/DS-2019, I-94 card, and COS Approval Notice to the International Office during business hours.