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International Student Change of Status

I am in the USA on a non-immigrant visa and want to change my status and obtain an F-1 student visa.


Application Deadlines

You may apply for admission to MassBay for semesters beginning in September or January. We recommend that you complete your MassBay application six months in advance of the semester in which you intend to enroll. After you have received your letter of acceptance to MassBay, you will apply to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). to change your visa status to F1.

Change of Status (COS) applications typically take several months to process and may or may not be approved. Please see below, Change of Status Application to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, for full details and instructions.

Application Requirements

  1. Completed Massachusetts Bay Community College Application, which you may complete online using this MassBay Secure Online Application.
  2. Evidence that you have graduated from high school in your country. MassBay may be able to evaluate your educational documentation for US high school equivalency:  email to request a review. If we are unable to make a determination, we will require that you have your educational documents evaluated by an educational evaluation agency such as the Center for Educational Documentation, World Education Services, Education Credential Evaluators,Spantran, or any NACES-member agency
  3. English language proficiency.  Unless you have completed at least two years of full time study with English instruction in one of these countries you must provide documentation of English language proficiency:  Australia, Bahamas, Barbados,  Belize, Canada (except Quebec), Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Grand Cayman, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Singapore, Trinidad / Tobago, United Kingdom.  English proficiency may be documented by any of these methods:
    • Accuplacer English placement into ESL IV or higher. This assessment is free and available online through MassBay.  Email to obtain an ID number for taking the Accuplacer.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 68 or higher.
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0 or higher
    • SATs are not required. If you have taken the SAT and have obtained a score of 450 or higher on the Critical Reading section of the SAT, then no additional proof of language proficiency is required.
    • TOEFL/IELTS is not required if you are a native English speaker and have attended an international high school where English is the language of instruction. 
    • If you have passed Freshman English at another US college or university with a grade of C- or higher, then no additional proof of language proficiency is required.

Visa Requirements

  1. I-20 Request Form.
  2. Certification of Financial Responsibility.
  3. A bank statement showing that you have US$30,000 available to support your first 9 months in the US and an additional US$6,000 per dependent must be available.
    • Bank statement must be on official bank letterhead (no photocopies).
    • Bank statement must be dated within six months of your first MassBay semester.
    • Your funding may be in any currency.
    • You may submit statements from more than one bank account.
  4. Letter of financial support from your sponsor(s).
    • The person, company, or agency on the bank statement must declare financial support for your studies at Massachusetts Bay Community College.
  5. Photocopy of your passport.
  6. Photocopy of your I-94 Arrival/Departure Card.
  7. Photocopy of your DS-2019 if you have a J-1 visa.

    Change of Status Application Requirements

    For information regarding changing your visa status from J1 to F1, please visit the United States Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS).  Application is made to the USCIS, not to MassBay Communty College. 

    The following documents are required for a COS application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    1. Completed and signed Form I 539.
    2. Payment of SEVIS I-901 fee by check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The current fee is $370.
    3. Receipt for payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee.  Receipt is needed for F-1 visa application.
    4. Copy of I-20 form. Please check item #11 on your I-20. (print your name, sign, and date.)
    5. Copy of bank statement(s) of financial support (see above) showing availability of at least $30,000.
    6. Copy of I-94 record indicating current status.
    7. Copy of identification page in your passport.
    8. Copy of MassBay Letter of Acceptance.
    9. A brief letter, requesting change of status to F-1  Explain why you are applying for a change of status.
    10. Make copies of all of these documents for your own records and send, by CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, to:


    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Vermont Services Center
    75 Lower Welden Street
    St. Albans, VT 05479


    After you mail your Change of Status application

    • USCIS will send a receipt for your application processing.  This receipt is very important as it is proof that you are awaiting a decision from USCIS.  The number on the receipt can be used to check your application.  If your COS application is not approved by the MassBay start date on your I-20, then your I-20 start date will need to be deferred to a later semester.
    • USCIS will make a decision on your application.  If the decision is a denial, you will need to leave the United States. If the decision is an approval, you will need to check in with the MassBay Office of Admissions to enroll as a full-time student. Kindly notify MassBay when you receive your decision.

    If you currently have a J1 visa, you may legally register for classes while your Change of Status application is pending. However, if your COS application is denied during the academic semester, you will have to leave the country immediately and you will not be eligible for a refund of any payments made to MassBay.  We therefore recommend that you do not register for classes until your F1 status is approved.

    Please be aware that if you apply for a Change of Status that is ultimately denied, your “unlawful presence” in the United States will begin when your current visa expires, not from the date of denial.  This could affect your ability to return to the United States in the future.

    Note:  This procedure only changes your status within the United States. If you travel outside of the US after your change of status has been approved, you will then need to apply for an F-1 visa stamp in your passport by scheduling an appointment at the US Consulate or Embassy.