U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they are issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual about change of status (COS) to F-1 visa. The policy alert issued by USCIS was published on the website on July 20, 2021.
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), certain nonimmigrants in the USA have opportunity to request a change to a different nonimmigrant classification when they qualify to do that.
In the USCIS history, the institution has only granted applications to change to F-1 status that fall within 30 days of the program start date listed on the applicant’s Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. For that, a Form I 20 is required to fill. USCIS has required nonimmigrants who are applying for a COS to F-1 classification to continuously apply for and obtain nonimmigrant status up to 30 days before the program start date listed on the Form I-20.
According to the policy alert, the main motive behind this policy is to limit costs to both applicants and the government. Thus, USCIS no longer requires the applicant to submit subsequent applications for extension or change of nonimmigrant status while the COS application to F-1 status is pending with USCIS, provided that the applicant’s nonimmigrant status is unexpired at the time of filing the initial COS application and the applicant is otherwise eligible for a COS.
To eliminate a gap or similar issues in status, USCIS will grant the COS to F-1 effective on the day of the COS approval. When an application is approved more than 30 days prior to the program start date, they are required to ensure that they do not violate their F-1 status during said time. An example of a violation would be engaging in unauthorized employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days prior to the start of classes.
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