If you are changing status to F-1 from a non-immigrant status that does not allow you to study in the U.S., you will need to be careful when filing your F-1 Change of status petition as there are very certain rules when filing this type of petition.
If your current status does not allow you to enroll in classes, then you will need to wait until your F-1 Change of Status petition is approved by USCIS, as else, you would be violating your immigration status.
F-1 Change of Status
You will have to maintain a legitimate status during the entire time the change of status petition is pending. Furthermore, if your current status expires over 30 days before your program start date, then you will need to file what is known as a “bridge the gap petition”. Either a change or extension of the status petition in which you will ask for status for up to 30 days before your program start date. Kindly note that it is extremely important that you file the bridge petition. As if you have any gap in your status, USCIS will deny the petition.
If you are in the U.S. on a J-1 visa and your grace period is up on 1st July 2021. The program’s beginning date is 15th August 2021. It’s now the start of June you still have not heard from USCIS on your J-1 to F-1 Change of Status petition. For this situation, you should file a bridge petition to for instance a B-2 status until the next new program start date (likely in January) and so you are in a valid status until the program begins. If USCIS does not approve it on schedule, your should will need to contact your DSO, defer attendance, and file a bridge petition so you can legally stay in the U.S. while the F1 change of status petition is pending.