Change of Status
What is Change of Status?
It is a procedure that allows foreigners holding a non-immigrant status in the U.S. to change to another non-immigrant status while in the U.S.
Who can apply for Change of Status?
A person holding a non-immigrant status in the U.S. may be eligible to change the status to another non-immigrant status if:
• The initial entry into the U.S. was with a lawful non-immigrant visa;
• The non-immigrant status remains valid during the entire stay in the U.S.
• Have not violated any immigration law during the time in the U.S.
• The current non-immigrant status does not belong to a class of statuses that not allowing change of status.
Non-immigrants in the U.S. commonly seek to change their status to the following:
• Temporary visitors for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2);
• Students (F-1) and dependents (F-2);
• Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B) and dependents (H-4);
• Exchange visitors (J-1)and dependents (J-2);
• International Managers (L-1A), International Worker with Specialized Knowledge (L-1B) and dependents (L-2);
• (O-1) and dependents (O-2);
• Entertainment Group(P-1), Reciprocal Exchange(P-2), Culturally Unique Program (P-3) and their dependents (P-4);
• Religious Workers (R-1) and dependents (R-2).
Benefits and Limitations of Change of Status:
The primary benefit of change of status is that, if approved by the USCIS, you can change to a new non-immigrant status without leaving the U.S., which saves traveling expenses and time and the application of a new visa at U.S. consulate office.
However not everyone can apply for change of status, if you entered the U.S. under the following visa or circumstance, you may not be able to change your status to another status:
• B-1/B-2 on Visa Waiver Pilot Program; • People in Transit (C visa); • Crewman (D visa); • Exchange Visitor/Student (J visa) if subject to two-year foreign residency requirement; • Fiance or spouse of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiance or spouse (K visa); • Vocational Student (M-1) to Student (F-1); • Informant (S visa);
How to apply for Change of Status?
It depends on which new non-immigrant status you want to change to. For certain status, form I-129 should be used to petition the status for the beneficiary. For certain status, form I-539 should be used to apply for the new status. Please refer to the information page of each particular visa category that you are interested in.