Change of Level

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires F-1 students to report academic program changes by obtaining a new I-20 for each change. If the academic major changes within a single program, it is a change of major. Changes involving two programs are referred to by DHS as a “change of level.”  To maintain F-1 status obtain a Change of Level (COL) I-20 appropriate to your situation.

Step 1. Identify your situation and submission dates.

  • Graduating from one degree program and starting another within five months.
    Check an academic calendar for the last day of final exams. Submit a COL I-20 request to the ISSO after the last day of finals and before 60 days past that date.

  • Moving from one degree program to another on a different educational level.  For example, moving from a PhD to a Master’s program without completing the PhD.
    To be eligible for OPT on the Master’s level you must obtain a COL I-20 at the beginning of the last semester before completing master’s degree requirements. Submit a COL I-20 request after the first day of classes and before Census Day.

  • Completing OPT and starting a new degree program within 5 months.
    Request your COL I-20 after the OPT EAD end date and before 60 days past that date.

  • Moving from OPT to a new program before the OPT end date. 
    Request your COL I-20 after the first day of classes and before Census Day of the first semester of your new program.

Step 2.  Compile the required documents.

Step 3.  Submit the documents to the ISSO by the deadline specific to your situation. The processing time is five business days in most cases. Select the most convenient method below. Please do not duplicate submissions.

  • In person - ISSO, Student Services Building (SSB) 3.400
    Office hours:  Monday – Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ; Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • By email - 
    Attachments must be in PDF, JPEG or DOC format; total email size less than 5MB; no compressed formats, such as .rar or .zip.
  • By mail -       
    International Student Services  The University of Texas at Dallas
    800 W. Campbell Rd., SSB34
    Richardson, TX 75080-3021

Step 4.  Pick up the new COL I-20. An email will be sent to your UT Dallas email account when the I-20 is ready.  For questions about the status of your UT Dallas I-20, contact an international student advisor via or by phone at (972) 883-4189.

Other Important Considerations

  • Work authorizations. CPT and OPT are degree-specific.
    • On the day a COL I-20 for a new program is issued, any existing work authorization ends.
    • The earliest you may be authorized to begin a new CPT is the program start date for the new Change of Level I-20.
  • International travel.  If you will travel internationally between programs you should use the new COL I-20 to re-enter the U.S. If you need the I-20 mailed to you, consider mailing times.  It may take 2 to 4 weeks for regular mail to reach you, and an average of 5 business days for express mail.
  • Required summer enrollment.  F-1 regulations require full-time enrollment in the first semester of a new program, even if that semester is summer.  If your admission is for summer and you do not plan to be enrolled that semester, consider deferring admission to a future term.
  • Driver’s license renewals.  License offices require students to present I-20s that are valid and unexpired for at least six months into the future. Time your COL I-20 request so the I-20 is not in process when you need to apply for your renewal.

Related Topics