Major categories in Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status or form I-539

Major categories in Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status or form I-539

Major categories in Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status or form I-539

Form I-539, or the Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status is, as the name suggests, an application for non-immigrants to change their status or to extend their current status when they are going to expire soon. You may be able to change status when you have been maintaining your current status and you are eligible for the new status.

Now, I-539 has many types in it since it is an application to change status, so it can be from F1 to F2 or vice versa, to extend or change from H4, H1B, B1 or B2 etc.

In this article we talk about some major types and their processes.

F2 to F1: 

If you are seeking to be admitted as a new student or reinstate your status as an Academic Student in a school of the United States, you have to file I-539 under F1 or Academic Student category.

If you were in the F2 category (a spouse or unmarried children of an approved F-1 visa foreign national) and now want to change to F1 or if you were on F1 and now want to extend your status as an F1 student, you have to submit some documents along with a complete form I-539. They are listed below:

●  A copy of your I-94

●  A copy of your I-20, certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student, issued by the school you are enrolled in

●  Evidences of your ability to pay for your own tuitions and living as well your ability to support the dependents

To know more about changing your status from F2 to F1, you may consult your university or an immigration attorney.

If you were in F1 and your status expired, and now you want to reinstate your F1 status, you have to submit some more documents along with the aforementioned ones.

●  Evidence that your violation of status resulted from some circumstances beyond your control, or

●  Evidence that your violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within a Designated School Officials (DSO’s) power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.

F1 to F2: 

The most important thing to remember if you want to change from F1 to F2 is that you have to maintain your current status until your status change is approved, otherwise you may end up losing your current visa status too.
The first step to change from F1 to F2 is to speak with a DSO of your school/university regarding your wish to change status.
The change of status can be done in two ways,

●  Traveling to your home country and applying there at the US consulate or embassy with your updated I-20/visa type and re-enter the USA on that status

●  Requesting a change in status process with a proper application process with a filled up form I-539 and some basic supporting documents. This process can take upto 3 months.

B1/B2 to F1: 

Changing from Visitor visa (B1/B2) to Student visa (F1) is not that complicated, but you have to maintain your visitor status, be eligible to apply for F1 and convince the USCIS that you didn’t enter with a visitor visa to avoid the normal application process for an F1 visa. 

However, you can enter with a B2 visa with the intent of changing to an F1 later. For that, you have to clearly state your intention at the consulate and present evidence that you will be eligible for F1 status. Then, if your B2 visa is approved, it will have a mark “prospective student” at the consulate.

You, as a B visitor, should also be aware of the 30/60 days rule which is an adjunctive principle used by the Department of State that simply says that if you apply for a change of status within 30 or 60 days of entering the USA on a B visitor visa, in most cases, USCIS denies it (exception: B2 “prospective student”).

Moreover, an F1 status only begins before 30 days of the intended programs’ start date listed on the Form I-20. So as a B visitor who wants to change to F1, you have to maintain your B2 status until a month before the program start date.

For example, if your program starts on September 1st, your F1 status doesn’t become valid until August 1st. Hence you have to make sure your B2 visa is valid at least till July 31st or August 1st to have a smooth transition from B2 to F1.

These are the major categories of change of status you need to know about. There are many other categories such as M1, J1, A3 etc. Please follow the general instructions given by USCIS to file your I-539 form.

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