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  • Writer's pictureKayla Burton

What is the Change of Status process, how long will it take and how much does it cost?

Updated: Feb 14

If you are currently in Colorado and want to become a full-time student at the Colorado School of English (CSE), there are a few things to consider.

Depending on your eligibility, you have the option to either stay in the U.S. by changing your status or return home to apply for an F1 visa at the consulate or embassy in your home country.

If you are interested in applying for a Change of Status (COS) through USCIS we recommend working with an immigration lawyer to ensure you are compliant with all immigration regulations. Remember, it is your responsibility to maintain your current status even while you are waiting for a COS application to be processed. Click here for more information about this process.

Colorado School of English application process:

Once you decide to proceed with a Change of Status (COS) application, the first step is to fill out our online application at

Required documents:

  1. A copy of your passport (6 months of validity required)

  2. A copy of your current visa (and any applicable visa extension documents)

  3. A Signed 'Change of Status Self Contract'

  4. A bank statement showing $1,600 for each month you would like to study (must show your name, name of the bank, current date, and current balance; must be less than 6 months old)

Recommended Program Length: We recommend applying for at least a 6-month program. You can apply for a maximum of 12 months (1 year).

Sponsorship: If the bank statement is not in your name, please enter your sponsor’s information in the ‘Affidavit of Support section.

CSE application approval & fees: Once your application has been approved, you will need to pay the following non-refundable fees to CSE in order to receive an Initial Form I-20 and Acceptance Letter.

  • Non-refundable CSE application fee: $175

  • Non-refundable COS sponsorship fee: $325*

*(3) Term Tuition Discount: Additionally, you are eligible for a $225

discount credit toward your tuition over a period of three terms. A Term =

4 weeks of study. Each 4 week period of study you will receive a tuition

discount of $75, which means your tuition will be $695. You can receive

this discount for up to 3 terms (e.g., 12 weeks of study in total). Afterward,

our tuition will be $770 per term for the remainder of your studies.

Program Start Date: Please note, once USCIS approves your COS,

you are required to start your classes within 30 days of receiving your

approval notice at the next available Program Start Date in order to

maintain your status.

USCIS Change of Status (COS) Application Process:

You may wish to change your nonimmigrant status if you are already in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa for a purpose other than attending school and want to study at a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school. You are not eligible for a change of status in the United States if you entered as a visitor through the visa waiver program.

If you meet the criteria above and want to change your status while you remain in the United States, you must submit an application with USCIS to change your nonimmigrant status by following these steps:

  • Apply to and receive acceptance from a SEVP-certified school.

  • Obtain an initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," from the SEVP-certified school.

  • The designated school official (DSO) should give a change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.

  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.

  • File a Form I-539, "Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status," with USCIS.

  • Not all nonimmigrant classifications are eligible to change to student status. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that your nonimmigrant classification is eligible for a change of status.

If your nonimmigrant status is unexpired at the time of filing the application to change status to F-1 nonimmigrant, and you otherwise remain eligible for a change of status, you are not required to obtain status all the way up to the date that is 30 days before your program start date (“bridge the gap”). Even if USCIS processing times cause a delay in your program start date and your DSO must defer your start date until the next academic term or semester, you are not required to file any additional applications to maintain your status. If approved, your change of status to F-1 will be effective as of the date of adjudication.

You must wait until the change of status to F-1 application is approved and you are within 30 days of the new program start date to engage in F status-specific activities, such as on-campus employment and practical training.

When to apply: Please note you need to complete this application and send it in before your current visa and I-94 expire. To ensure that your application is completed correctly and submitted in a timely fashion, we recommend that you submit your application to USCIS at least 30 days before the expiration date of your current visa and I-94. You should select a program start date on your I-20 that is before the expiration date of your I-94.

In all cases, you need to maintain your current visa status until your change of status application has been submitted.

Cost and considerations:

COS applications can take anywhere from 3 – 12 months to be processed in order to receive an approval notice or denial. That said, USCIS seems to processing most COS applications within 8 - 16 weeks at the present moment.

While you are waiting for your application to be processed you cannot take classes and you cannot leave the US, otherwise you forfeit your application. Once a COS is approved by the government, the student is required to start studying at the soonest available start date. At CSE, we have start dates every 4 weeks.

Again, we highly recommend working with an immigration attorney. As a school, we can provide only the Form I-20 and the acceptance letter. We cannot submit the I-539 (COS) application or offer legal advice. That said, we will continue to update your Form I-20 and Acceptance Letter as many times as needed until you have secured an appointment with USCIS.

Here is a list of the associated fees of a COS application that we know of.

  • CSE F1 Application Fee [non-refundable]: $175

  • CSE Change of Status Sponsorship Fee [non-refundable]: $325

  • SEVIS I-901 Fee (to be paid before submitting the COS application): $350

  • Change of Status Application (I-539) Fee: $370

  • Biometrics Fee: $85

You may find that it is easier and perhaps less expensive overall to return to your home country and apply for a student visa there. If however, you would like to apply for a change of status through the Colorado School of English, the first step is to apply at

When your COS is approved, you will receive a $75 credit for tuition for your first 3 terms ($225 in total). This reduces the tuition from $770 to $695 for three terms. However, if your COS is denied, the application fees you paid are non-refundable, as noted above.

If you have questions, please contact your DSO (

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