Changing your Academic Program
While maintaining your status as an F-1 Student, you might find that you wish to change your primary program of study, or you might wish to change the degree level that you are studying. Both of these changes require updating your Form I-20.
Changing your Degree Level
A new I-20 is required whenever a student completes one academic program and will begin study in a new academic program. Although this is called a “Change of Level,” this type of I-20 can be issued for a second degree at the same level. Per regulation, students are not eligible for a change of level if your new program will not begin within 5 months. If you have already used OPT at one degree level, and you will be completing another degree program at the same degree level, you are not eligible for additional OPT at the completion of the second degree. Per regulation, OPT is only granted once per degree level.
Please note that ISSS is not able to process a Change of Level I-20 after the semester has begun. If you are admitted in the middle of the semester, you should defer your admission to the next available term.
For students that are not on OPT, you must request a change of level update within your 60-day grace period after completion of your current degree program.
For students that are not yet on OPT but have applied for OPT, you will need to withdraw your OPT application within the 60-day grace period and apply for a change of level. If you are outside of your 60-day grace period and your application is still pending with USCIS, you will need to wait until you have the approval for OPT before applying for a change of level. This may mean that you forfeit approved OPT at that degree level.
For students currently on OPT with end dates in the future, your OPT authorization will end when you begin a new degree program (the day before the first day of your new program), even if the OPT end date on your EAD is later than the new program start date. You will forfeit any remaining approved OPT at that degree level. You should request a change of level update prior to the start of the term.
For students currently on OPT where OPT will end before new program begins, you will need to request a change of level update within your 60-day grace period and program will begin within 5 months of the end of OPT.
No, you will not get a new SEVIS ID. Your current SEVIS ID will remain the same. You will get a new I-20 with your new degree level and major listed.
You will need to upload the following documents online to your application through the online application page:
I-20 Application Form
Proof of Financial Support Proof of funds to cover costs of one year of study and living expenses. You will need to provide financial documents that meet the Financial Documentation Requirements. If your funding is from a sponsor(s), you are required to submit the Graduate Financial Verification Form.
If you have dependents, you will also need to provide financial support to cover dependent expenses. More information can be found on the F-2 Dependent Page.
Copy of Passport Identification Page
After you receive your new I-20, you will need to complete SEVIS Activation with the ISSS office prior to the start of the term. The form will be submitted online and you will need your biographical information, an emergency contact information, ad your most recent I-94 Record.
Change of Degree Level Frequently Asked Questions
Prior to your departure, you should obtain your new I-20 that reflects your change of level. Since your old I-20 will not be valid after completion of your degree, you will need your new I-20 for re-entry. If you are on OPT and will be taking a vacation between the end of your employment and the start of the new degree program, you should also obtain your new I-20 for travel.
Yes, students who have completed their degree level and have obtained their change of level I-20 can continue to work between the two levels.
Current Student Financial Reference
Changing your Major
If you wish to change your primary program of study prior to completing your original program, you will need to complete a Change of Major request to update your I-20.
your Major Update I-20 can be requested after you have changed your primary program of study on your academic records. Students looking to begin the process of changing their majors should contact their Academic Advisor.
Once your Workday Student Records reflect the change in your program, please submit the ISSS Major Update Form to issue a new I-20.