USCIS Updates Policy Affecting Change of Status to F-1
On July 20, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it has updated its policy guidance around change of status (COS) filings to F-1 student. Specifically, the new guidance, "eliminates the need for individuals who have applied for a change of status (COS) to F-1 student to apply to change or extend their nonimmigrant status while their initial F-1 COS application is pending."
This new guidance is significant because, under the previous policy guidance, an applicant filing a COS to F-1 student needed to maintain a valid nonimmigrant status up to 30 days before the program start date listed on the Form I-20 submitted for COS. However, USCIS often approved COS applications before the applicant reached this 30 day window, which would result in the applicant having to file additional I-539 application(s) in order bridge this gap and remain in the U.S. These subsequent filings were often time-consuming, stressful, and added additional expense.
Under the new policy guidance, this potential gap in status will be prevented by USCIS granting the COS to F-1 effective the day the agency approves the I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status application. In cases where USCIS approves the COS application more than 30 days before the student’s program start date listed on the Form I-20, the student must ensure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time. An example of violating F-1 status would be engaging in employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on their Form I-20.
Current and incoming UIC international students should always consult with an OIS Advisor regarding their specific COS application or general questions about how to maintain status in the U.S. Additionally, please note this new policy guidance only applies to application for COS to F-1 student and does not apply to COS applications to other SEVIS categories such as J-1 Exchange Visitor.
Please note that this update is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. More information can be found on the USCIS website and specific questions should be directed to an OIS Advisor or personal immigration attorney.
If you have any questions about this announcement, please contact the Office of International Services at email@example.com or (+1) 312 996-3121, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. As always, the mission of our office is to enhance and support the international dimensions of the University of Illinois Chicago, including our medical branches in Peoria and Rockford.