POLICY CHANGE ALERT: F-1 Change of Status Applicants No Longer need to Submit Applications to “Bridge the Gap”

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.

Please contact Meyer Law Group if you have any questions or concerns regarding this policy update.

Brandon Meyer, Managing Partner

Paul Chen, Senior Partner

Jennielyn Alcarion, Senior Attorney