Question: I will be changing my Visa status from F2 to F1. In that case, do I need to go back to my home country or can I go to a nearby country like Canada to get my change of status done?
F2 to F1 Visa: Change of Status vs Travel
Following was written by a DSO:
Just want to point out that Change of Status refers to the specific act of remaining in the US while awaiting adjudication.
In this case, the DSO will issue an I-20 specifically marked for Change of Status.
The downsides are really long processing time (9 months to a year), you don’t get a visa sticker after you’ve been approved unless you travel, and the problems of maintaining status while the application is pending, and then maintaining status after it’s been approved.
For example, as an F-2 you can enroll in university part-time while a COS to F-1 is pending. If you receive the approval notice in, say, November, then you would need to go from part-time to full-time since F-1 requires full-time enrollment; obviously, the problem here is that in November, your school would generally not allow you to add any classes to your schedule to bring you up to full time. It is usually well beyond add/drop courses at that point.
The scenario in your case is obtaining status by travel.
You would obtain an initial I-20 from your DSO, leave the US, visit a consulate/embassy, and re-enter with your newly-issued I-20 and newly-issued visa in your passport.
The upside is that it’s quick and you have the new visa moving forward.
The downsides here are expenses (flights, possibly hotels, etc) and the possibility of a visa denial, so you’d be stuck with no way back into the US.
It becomes slightly riskier if you are applying for the visa at a US consulate in a country other than your own citizenship.
You are basically asking the consulate to do you a favor just by seeing you. There are students do this with no problems.
I even had a Brazilian student on OPT who went to Iceland for her job and she was approved for the renewal. And I’ve seen others get denied. So I’ve seen it play out both ways.
The thing you need to consider is that it would be that much more difficult to show evidence of strong ties to your home country to overcome nonimmigrant intent.
Suggestions from the Community Members:
Here are the reasons, why going to the home country is advisable.
Unless you have relatives in Canada, an extended stay can be a problem if F1 Visa processing goes beyond your planned travel. There are members here who have given interviews and are still waiting to hear from the consulate and it can take 60 to 90 on 221(g) and sometimes even longer.
It’s a case by case scenario and one can’t can’t say if that’s new normal.
Your goal should be prepared for worst – Extended Stay in Canada.
I was stuck 34 days after H1B Stamping via Dropbox and spoke to a guy here who has been waiting for 10 months now in India (U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad) after his visa interview.
A lot of unknown factors are there and it’s hard for anyone to give you a black and white answer.