July 21, 2021
Dear Valued Clients:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced yesterday new policy guidance eliminating the need for F-1 change of status (“COS”) applicants to submit subsequent applications for extension or change of nonimmigrant status while their initial F-1 COS application is pending. The applicant’s nonimmigrant status must be unexpired at the time of filing the initial COS application and must otherwise be eligible for a COS.
Previously, applicants were required to maintain status up to 30 days before their program start date, as listed on their Form I-20, Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Applicants were required to either file extensions, or an initial change of status with subsequent extensions to ensure no “gaps” in their status.
To prevent “gaps” in status, USCIS will now grant the COS to F-1 status effective on the day of the COS approval. If an application is approved more than 30 days before the start of the program start date (as stated on their Form I-120), the nonimmigrant must ensure not to violate their F-1 status during that time (e.g. engage in unauthorized employment or criminal activity more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on their Form I-20.)
USCIS is in the process of revising the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, instructions to reflect these changes.
Brandon Meyer, Managing Partner
Paul Chen, Senior Partner
Jennielyn Alcarion, Senior Attorney