Skip to main content

Degree Change

F-1 and J-1 student regulations require you to make progress toward your current program of study.

If you decide to change your degree program at Cornell—by going on to graduate study, for example—you will need to update your I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect your new program of study. We are here to help!

If you do not obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019, you’ll be in violation of your F-1 or J-1 status.

How to Change Your Major or Degree Level

  1. Get Approval
  2. Complete Process

1 Get approval for your new major or degree program.

Work with the admissions or student services office in the college, professional school, or graduate program to be admitted to your new degree program. You must complete this process before you request a new I-20 or DS-2019.

2 Complete a degree change process.

If you are admitted through graduate school admissions office please refer to the Admission Supplement for International Students. Also check out this FAQ.

For other changes of major or degree, please submit the degree change request form. We will verify the change in the university system, and if your program end date will also change, may ask you for updated financial support documents (award letter, assistantship letter, bank statement, or sponsor letter). Once we have verified your eligibility for the change, an immigration advisor will process your request and notify you when your new I-20 or DS-2019 is available.

For a change of degree level, how long do I have to update my I-20 or DS-2019?

F-1 students need to complete the update within 60 days of graduation. J-1 students have up to 30 days after graduation to complete the process.

The visa stamp in my passport and my new end date don’t match!

Changing your degree program may extend the end date of your I-20 or DS-2019, but it will not extend the visa stamp in your passport.

If you have an expired visa stamp in your passport, it is okay to remain in the United States! The next time you travel out of the United States, you’ll need to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country or anywhere outside the United States.

What about F-1 OPT or J-1 AT?

You can get work authorization after graduation by obtaining F-1 OPT or J-1 Academic Training status between degree programs. However, you must get a new I-20 or DS-2019 before you start your new degree program.

OPT work authorization will cease when the new I-20 is created. On-campus work is allowed between programs.


Next Up: Extend Your End Date