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.

  • 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 not more than 60 days past that date.
  • Completing OPT and starting a new degree program within 5 months. Request your COL I-20 not more than 60 days past your OPT end date.
  • Moving from OPT to a new program before the OPT end date. Request your COL I-20 at least five business days before the first day of classes for the semester.

Step 2.  Compile the required documents.

  • UT Dallas Change of Level form.
  • UT Dallas Financial Affidavit form.
  • Proof of funding.  Depending on your situation this may be bank information on the UT Dallas Financial Affidavit form, a TA/RA assistantship, scholarship or government funding letter, bank statements or a combination of these. All financial documents must meet the requirements listed at I-20 Expenses.

Step 3.  Submit the documents to the ISSO by the deadline specific to your situation.

You may submit your documents by email, mail or in person.The processing time is five business days in most cases. Please do not duplicate submissions.

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. Please contact an advisor if you have any questions.

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, however you must check you specific CPT I-20 to determine when you have been authorized to begin CPT.
  • 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.