What is a nonimmigrant visa?
A nonimmigrant visa is a visa that is issued to a foreign national who intends to be present in the U.S. for a temporary period. This period varies for different nonimmigrant categories.
There are more than 40 different nonimmigrant U.S. visa categories, and each one is used for a different, but very specific purpose. For example, some nonimmigrant visas authorize temporary employment in the U.S.; others permits tourists to visit, students to study and diplomats to serve their country of origin’s interests in the United States.
The CBP Form I-94 that is issued when you are admitted into the United States shows the nonimmigrant visa classification, date of admission and date of expiration of that nonimmigrant status. You may only apply to change your status if you are within that period of stay at the time of filing the request.
When am I required to change nonimmigrant status?
If the original reason for coming to the United States changes, you may be required to change your nonimmigrant status to a more accurate one before you lawfully begin to engage in the activities desired. This webpage guide will provide you with additional information on the circumstances in which you must apply for a change of nonimmigrant status with USCIS.
Individuals who are interested in extending the stay of his or her current nonimmigrant status may file a request for an extension of stay on Form I-539. Please visit our page on extending your nonimmigrant stay here.
If you are unsure when your nonimmigrant status will expire, it is encouraged that you contact our immigration office immediately for a FREE consultation.
Can I change my nonimmigrant visa status in the United States?
You may apple to change your status in the United States if you:
- Were lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant;
- You have not committed any act that would make you ineligible to receive an immigration benefit (such as harsh crimes);
- There is no other factor that requires you to depart the United States prior to making a reentry based on a different classification;
- Have a passport that will be valid for the entire period of the proposed stay.
Please note you must submit the application for a change of nonimmigrant status prior to your I-94 expiring.
Am I eligible to change my visa status in the United States?
If you were admitted to the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant statuses, you cannot request a change of status in the United States and must depart prior to the expiration date of your I-94:
C – Alien in Transit
D – Crewman
K-1 or K-2 – Fiancé(e) or Dependent of Fiancé(e)
K-3 or K-4 – Certain Husbands and Wives of U.S. citizens and their Dependent Children
S – Witness of Informant
TWOV – Transit Without Visa
WT or WB – Visa Waiver Program
Additionally, if you were admitted in any of the following nonimmigrant categories, there may be certain restrictions concerning the ability to request a change in nonimmigrant status:
J-1 – Exchange visitor subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement cannot change status
M-1 – Vocational student cannot change status to F-1 student. This type of student also cannot change status to any H nonimmigrant classification, if the vocational training helped him or her qualify for the H classification.
Please note that if you are present in the United States in any of the above categories, you must depart the United States on or before the date your I-94 expires.
How do I request a change of nonimmigrant status with USCIS?
There are two methods available most nonimmigrant who wish to change to another nonimmigrant status. In order to access which situation applies to you, please contact our immigration attorney now for a FREE consultation. You may file Form I-539 in paper with USCIS and in certain circumstances this may be filed online with USCIS ELIS.
What is the fee to request a change of nonimmigrant status?
The fee to file a request for a change of status varies for different types of requests. Our experienced immigration attorney can inform you of the filing fee depending on the details of your application.
How do I find out when my I-94 expires?
Since April of 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated the old paper Form I-94 system and stores all the records online. You may look up your record at www.cbp.gov/I94 to obtain this record and find out when your status expires.
What if I file for a change of status on time but USCIS doesn't make a decision before my I-94 expires?
If USCIS does not make a decision by the date the I-94 expires then your lawful nonimmigrant status ends and you are out of status. Even if you have timely applied to extend your nonimmigrant status, it has still expired. Generally, as a matter of discretion, USCIS will defer any removal proceedings until after the petition is adjudicated and USCIS decides an outcome of the extension.
If your application for a change of status is approved, the approval will relate back to the date your Form I-94 expired, and your status during the pendency of your application will then be deemed to have been lawful. Alternatively, if your application is denied you will be required to depart the United States immediately.
Located in Southern California, our U.S. immigration lawyers have successfully helped hundreds of applicants extend their nonimmigrant stays. We have helped clients from around the country, contact us now for a FREE consultation.