Today we will be presenting you with the ultimate guide for H4 to F1 change of status in 2021.
Registering at a University is a huge step that needs lots of planning and preparation. It gets even more complex when you have to bother about your immigration status.
H4 dependents that choose to go back to college often have two options
- Enroll in the program on H4 status
- Convert from their H4 to F1 visa.
To get more information about these options, read on.
The foremost action you need take is to find a University that meets your standards and the program that best suits your career goals.
Enlisting the help of Counsellors is one great way to shortlist programs, find about application requirements, and submit applications. Read this article to learn about all the steps involved in pursuing a masters degree in USA and the trending programs that are guaranteed to get you a job after graduation.
Once you receive your I-20 from your chosen institution, then you immediately need to apply for changing your immigration status from H4 to F1 visa. To do that,
- You could either travel outside the United States and get F1 visa stamped or
- Stay back in the US and apply for a change of status from H4 to F1.
The petition to change your status usually takes about 3 to 9 months, this is dependent on the service center your petition gets forwarded to.
The good news is that, you can enroll in the program of your choice while awaiting your H4 to F1 change of status decision from USCIS, but you must continue to maintain your H4 status until the change of status is approved.
On conditions where your H4 visa is at risk of expiration before the H4 to F1 change of status is approved, you need to file a separate change of status petition to extend your H4 status. You can find USCIS regulations regarding this on their website.
You are eligible to start classes while waiting for the approval of your change of status to F1, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) until the H4 to F1 change of status petition is approved.
Note that the change of status petition is solely used to adjust your status while in the US. If for any reason you step out of the country, you’d need to visit a US consulate and get your F1 visa stamped.
H4 to F1 Change of Status Process
You’d be required to submit the H4 to F1 change of status petition I-539 online. The cost for the Change of status is $370USD as of this writing. You’re also required to pay an $85USD biometric fee. After the form is submitted, you are mandated to send following supporting documentations to USCIS:
- A copy of your I-20 received from the University.
- An acceptance letter from the University granting you the admission.
- A copy of Sevis fee receipt. Presently Sevis fee is $200 and it can be paid online.
- A copy of most recent I-94.
- A copy of your passport. This include only the first page, last page, and all visa stamped pages.
- A copy of all prior I-797A approvals, if you had filed and any H4 visa extensions.
- Adequate proof of funds to cover tuition and expenses. This Includes your H1B spouse’s bank account statements for last 3 months. The bank account balance should be more than the amount mentioned on your I-20.
- A cover letter describing your reasons behind the application for the change of status from H4 to F1. Since F1 is categorized as a non-immigrant visa, you’d need to also prove your intentions to return back to your home country after completing your degree.
- A copy of your marriage certificate.
- A copy of H1B spouse’s passport – include only first page, last page, and all visa stamp pages.
- The most recent I-94 of your H1B spouse.
- The last 3 pay stubs of your H1B spouse.
- A Cover letter from H1B spouse that they are sponsoring your education
All the aforementioned documents should be submitted to the Dallas Lockbox facility. You can find the latest filing addresses online.
The lockbox facility will then send out receipt notice to you and thereafter forward your case documents to an appropriate USCIS service center for approval.
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Once you’ve received the receipt notice, you can then go ahead to check the status of your H4 to F1 change of status petition on USCIS case status website. You can also take the liberty to reach out to your school DSO if you have any further questions regarding the change of status from H4 to F1.
H4 to F1 Visa Interview Questions and Considerations
As aforementioned, A change of status from H4 to F1 can only change your immigration status while you within the United States. But if for any reason you travel outside the country you will need to get the F1 visa stamped at a United State consulate.
What we haven’t mentioned is that the F1 Visa stamping while converting from H4 to F1 carries some additional risks.
There are two questions frequently asked during the F1 visa interviews, they are:
- Why do you want to change from H4 to F1 status?
- What do you plan to engage in after graduation?
The Ability to work on CPT and OPT are well-founded reasons for changing one’s status from H4 to F1.
As you may have rightly guessed, the question about your plans after graduating is geared towards checking your intent to immigrate to the United States permanently after graduating. As you already live in the United States and your spouse is already on an H1B visa, the consular officer has every reason to think that you would try immigrating to the US if you are granted the F1 nonimmigrant visa.
At this juncture, you should be able to convince the consular officer beyond reasonable doubt about your strong ties to your home country and highlight multiple reasons why you intend to return home after the completion of your degree.
The chances of H4 to F1 visa stamping are specifically bleak when your H1B spouse’s green card is already under process. So you need to be conscious of the risks associated with it when going for the stamping, and it is also advisable to attend your F1 visa interview in your home country instead of closer countries like Canada or Mexico as that would better increase the belief of your strong ties to your home country.
Although visa stamping from H4 to F1 is risky, you can always come back to the United States on your H4 visa and continue studying if your F1 visa gets denied.