F-1 Applicants: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today published new policy guidance that eliminates the requirement for people who have applied for a change of status (COS) to F-1 students to apply to change or expand their nonimmigrant status while their initial F-1 COS application is pending.
Under the past policy, candidates needed to maintain status up to 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20, Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which required them to file extensions, or an initial COS and subsequent extensions ensuring that they would not have a “gap” in status.
To prevent a “gap” in status, USCIS will allow the change in status to F-1 effective. The day we approve an applicant’s Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. If USCIS approves an application over 30 days before the student’s program start date. The student should guarantee they do not violate their F-1 status during that time. An illustration of a violation would be engaging in employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on their Form I-20.
The new policy will decrease responsibilities and costs for both the candidates and USCIS. Also, USCIS is in the process of revising the Form I-539 instructions to reflect these changes.
Today’s statement serves to reverse a policy implemented by the Trump Government. That had required many F-1 applicants to also file one or more B-2 “bridge” applications.