By: Vandana Marath
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer require applicants who have submitted a change of status (COS) to F-1 student to change or extend their nonimmigrant status while their COS is pending.
Previously, an individual would need to keep their nonimmigrant status for up to thirty days before the program start date listed on Form I-20 Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. They would need to file extensions, or an initial COS plus extensions to avoid a “gap” in status. However, under the new policy a pending F-1 COS is sufficient.
To prevent any gaps in status, USCIS will begin recognizing change of status to F-1 effective the day Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status is approved. If USCIS approves an application over thirty days before the student’s program begins, it is up to the student to make sure they do not violate F-1 status during that time. This includes participating in any employment opportunities, including on campus employment, more than thirty days before the start date listed on Form I-20.
The new policy aims to cut workloads and costs for both USCIS and the applicant. USCIS will release a revised Form I-536 to reflect the new policy.
For more information, case-specific questions, or help filing a change of status, please contact your Chugh, LLP immigration professional.