For someone having entered the U.S on a visa, for example a B-2 visitor visa, changing to an F-1 student visa presented a very tricky logistical bureaucratic nightmare that often led to disastrous results.
That's why we're very happy about USCIS's latest policy decision - which eliminates the need for an extension application while waiting for an F-1 change of status decision.
The Policy Alert, published on July 20, 2021, makes obvious one thing - the government is tired of having to deal with unnecessary paperwork and is aiming to cut back on it.
When a nonimmigrant wants to study in the United States, an F-1 (or sometimes M-1) visa is needed. An F-1 visa allows a nonimmigrant to study full time at a school authorized to accept international students. Formerly, if a nonimmigrant was already in the U.S. on a different visa, and decided she wanted to study in the U.S., she would apply for a change of status and try to align the timing of that with her program start date. Because adjudication of an F-1 visa is difficult to time, the applicant would usually have to file multiple extension applications as a “bridge” so that she would not be out of status while waiting for her new student visa, each time paying a government filing fee to boot.
Now, in order “to limit costs to applicants and the government,” USCIS will not require extension applications while a change of status application is pending for an F-1 visa, as long as the applicant meets the following criteria:
The applicant's nonimmigrant status must be unexpired at the time of filing the initial change of status application; and
- The applicant must be eligible for a change of status.
To prevent a gap in status, USCIS will make the change of status to F-1 visa effective the day of the change of status approval.
Please note that if you are granted a change of status to F-1 visa prior to the start of your educational program, you will be subject to the restrictions of a student visa as soon as your change of status is approved. This means you cannot engage in any employment more than 30 days before your program start date, as listed on your Form I-20, or you will be in violation of your F-1 visa status.
If you are wanting to change your nonimmigrant status in the United States to an F-1 visa, you are not alone! International students make up about 6% of college students in the U.S., and contribute around $41 billion to the U.S. economy.
If you would like to talk with one of our attorneys about changing your nonimmigrant status in order to study in the United States, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.