International Student and Scholar Services welcomes you to James Madison University. Our office provides basic assistance to non-immigrant visa holders regarding study, dependent status, employment and changing to student status. We can provide verification of your non-immigrant status to the university to maintain accurate records. 

Our office offers information and links to opportunities for engaging in a variety of support both academically and socially. We invite any student on a non-immigrant visa to take advantage of these programs. Please explore our programs under Get Involved and the upcoming events. 


Dependents of certain non-immigrant visa holders (i.e., A, G, H, L, O, P, and R) are eligible to study in the U.S. as long as their spouse or parent maintains valid visa status. Your status is tied to that of your parent or spouse. If/when the primary visa holder leaves the country, you must also leave the country or apply for a change to an appropriate student status.

For all visa categories except A and G: A dependent child loses his/her dependent status upon turning 21 years old. Therefore, you must change your status to an appropriate visa category prior to your 21st birthday if you wish to remain in the U.S.

For A & G Status: Children of parents in either A or G status are considered dependents for visa purposes if they are unmarried and not a part of some other, independent household. College students who live near campus while in school are not considered to be in a separate household for these purposes.
NOTE: If your parent is in the U.S. in valid A or G status and you are unmarried, you may NOT change to a different visa category even if you would like to do so.

Employment Eligibility

Students who are dependents of non-immigrant visa holders may not be employed while they are in the U.S., unless they have been granted an Employment Authorization Document by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. If you have questions about whether you are permitted to apply for employment authorization under your visa category, contact ISSS for additional information or check with your legal counsel.

Changing Status to an F-1 visa

If you will lose your dependent status prior to your graduation date, you will need to change your status to an acceptable student visa prior to losing your current status. Changing status to an F-1 visa can be accomplished by leaving the U.S. and applying for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you decide on this option, please read more about applying for an F-1 student visa for additional information on obtaining your visa.

If travel outside the U.S. is not feasible for you, it is also possible to apply for a change of status while you remain in the country. ISSS staff can assist you in the filing for the change of status or you can use an immigration attorney. Here is the process:

  • You must submit financial documents demonstrating your ability to cover the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, living expenses, etc.).
  • ISSS will create your I-20 form after confirming your enrollment at JMU.
  • You will pay the SEVIS Fee.
  • You will complete the Change of Status application (Form I-539) and pay the required filing fee.
  • All of these documents will be submitted to USCIS; you may continue to study while the application is pending, but you may NOT be employed on campus until the F-1 status is approved.

A & G visa holders, NOTE: If you are in A or G status and the principal visa holder will be leaving the country prior to your graduation, you will need to file a Form I-566 with the embassy or international organization in which your parent or spouse is employed. That organization will complete this document and notify the U.S. State Department that you are eligible for a change of status. This document will be needed prior to submission of the change of status paperwork.

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