How can I change my American visa status?
I’m a 16 year-old Italian citizen who’s been staying in the US for two months. I have a J-1 visa status and I’m staying in Seattle for the whole year to study as an exchange student. In order to graduate from the school that I’m currently attending I have to change my visa status from J-1 (exchange student) to F-1 (international student).
How can I do that?
I know that I have to fill the I-539 form for the USCIS to apply for the change of the visa but I don’t understand who I have to submit the form to.
Do I have to exit the United States, go to an American consulate, obtain the new visa and come back?
Is the Vancouver American consulate able to release a F-1 visa for an Italian citizen in possess of a J-1 visa?
Which documents do I have to bring to the Vancouver consulate and what other kinds of application forms does the USCIS need?
I’m quite lost and the websites are not very helpful, please give me suggestions.
Thanks a lot!
Why do I have to go back to Italy? Isn’t it the same to do the process in Canada? I’ve already looked the link you attached to your answer but I still don’t understand why I have to go back.
Well, F1 student visas for public schools can only be used for 1 year. So, if you’re a junior, this may work out. First you need to go talk to your school and see what they say, or maybe the county school administration. The school needs to be willing to take you as a foreign student. That means, they have to charge you tuition for the year and they have to be registered with USCIS so that they can issue you an I-20 and register you in the student data base, SEVIS. Not every public school system has already registered and many don’t want to do all the paperwork.
However, assuming they will do this, and you have a place to stay for a year, you can get the I-20, etc and file your I-539. If accepted, you can change to F1 student status and remain in the US without leaving. However, if you want to go home for the summer, Christmas or whatever, you will need a proper F1 visa to return, and as noted, you can’t get that in the US. If you do decide to apply in Vancouver, you’ll still need the I-20 and be registered in SEVIS before you can apply for a student visa, so you’ll need to talk to your school etc, first whether you apply inside or outside of the US. Check out http://vancouver.usconsulate.gov/content/content.asp?section=visas&document=index for specific information on how to apply for a visa there and what you’ll need.
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