USCIS recently announced new policy guidance affecting foreign visitors who have decided they want to attend college in the United States. It is common for visiting foreign nationals to determine that they wish to pursue an education in the States. However, the process is not that simple. But there is good news. If you are in the U.S. and want to go to college, you no longer have to file bridge applications.
Previously, individuals would have to file for a “change of status” to F-1 students. While this application was being processed, they had to file bridge applications. Basically, B-2 visitors had to file multiple extensions to eliminate any gaps in their legal status. Some would say that it was easier to return to one’s home country and then file for a student visa at a U.S. consulate.
As described on the USCIS website:
Under the previous policy, applicants needed to maintain status up to 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20, Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which required them to file extensions, or an initial COS and subsequent extensions ensuring that they would not have a “gap” in status.
Under this new policy, foreign nationals do not have to file any bridge applications while their F-1 change of status is pending. However, the student must not violate their B-2 status during this time. USCIS uses getting a job as an example of such a violation. These changes eliminate filing fees, unnecessary burdens, and delays. They also help ease the backlog at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS is in the process of revising the Form I-539 instructions to reflect these changes.
Refresher – The F-1 Student Visa
If you are in the U.S. and want to go to college, you must obtain an F-1 student visa. The F-1 Visa allows you to be in the United States as a full-time student. You can attend an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate. Lastly, your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
Call for Help
In the past, the process was too burdensome and frustrating for all. So as an immigration attorney, I welcome these changes. That said, immigration law can be tricky. One error can lead to a denial. Therefore, please call me for help.