U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new policy guidance Tuesday aimed at easing application procedures for some nonimmigrants applying for a change of status to F-1 classification.

Key Points:

  • Under previous guidance, USCIS would only approve change of status to F-1 within 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20, Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This meant that applicants often had to file extensions, or separate change of status and subsequent extensions, to maintain another nonimmigrant status to ensure that they would not have a “gap” in status before changing status to F-1.
  • Under the new guidance, USCIS will grant the change of status to F-1 effective on the day the agency approves the applicant’s Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. If this happens more than 30 days before the applicant’s program start date, the applicant must make sure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time.

Additional Information: USCIS said the change would “reduce workloads and costs for both the applicants and USCIS.” The agency said it is in the process of updating the Form I-539 instructions to reflect the change in guidance. More information is available in USCIS’s policy alert and on its Changing to a Nonimmigrant F or M Student Status website.

This alert has been provided by BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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