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.
Although nonimmigrant visas are designed for a limited time period, certain types of nonimmigrant visas can be used as a stepping-stone to permanent resident status, which can be a path toward U.S. citizenship. Our Los Angeles visa attorneys are pleased to provide expert legal assistance to foreign nationals from all countries who are seeking visas of any type. To learn more about the process, contact JCS Immigration and Visa Services.
How do I obtain a B-1/B-2 Visa to Visit the United States?
Any individual who intends to visit the United States temporarily must obtain a B-1/B-2 temporary visitor visa before departing his or her home country en route to the United States, unless he or she is a citizen of Canada or if he or she qualifies for the Visa Waiver Program. If you are interested in visiting the United States as a tourist or visitor, please read about the B-2 visitor visa. If you intend to visit the U.S. for business purposes, for a temporary period, read about the B-1 business visa.
I already have a nonimmigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy, do I need another?
A nonimmigrant is an individual that enters the United States temporarily for a specific purpose such as business, study, temporary employment or pleasure/tourism. Anyone that comes to the United States must have a visa to enter. Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to remain in the U.S. for a temporary and non-permanent period of time. There are more than 40 nonimmigrant visa categories used for very specific purposes depending on your particular reason for coming to the U.S. You may be required to change your nonimmigrant visa status if your original reason for coming to the U.S. changes.
Can I change my United States visa status to a different nonimmigrant status?
When you arrived at a U.S. port of entry, you were inspected by a U.S. immigration officer. The officer assigned you a nonimmigrant visa category according to the intended purpose of your visit, and you were admitted to the U.S. If you want to change the purpose of your visit while you are in the U.S., it is probable that you must ask the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your nonimmigrant status. It is very likely that you will have to obtain another applicable type of visa status to change your nonimmigrant status before you may lawfully begin to engage in the new activities in the U.S.
For instance, if you arrived here as a tourist (B-2) but want to become a student (F-1), you must submit an application to change your status. If you are currently a nonimmigrant tourist, do not begin attending school as a student until you have received authorization from USCIS to change your status. If you fail to maintain your nonimmigrant status, you may be barred from returning to and/or removed (deported) from the United States. We recommend that you apply as soon as you determine that you need to change to a different nonimmigrant category.
If you are unsure when your nonimmigrant status will expire, it is encouraged that you contact our immigration office immediately for a free initial consultation.
Does everyone with a nonimmigrant visa need to change the status with USCIS to engage in any different activity?
You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted into the United States for business reasons (B-1 visa category) and you wish to remain in the United States for pleasure before your authorized stay expires.
You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you wish to attend school in the United States, and you are the spouse or child of someone who is currently in the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant visa categories:
- Diplomatic and other government officials, and employees (A visa category)
- International trade and investors (E visa )
- Representatives to international organizations and their employees (G visa )
- Temporary workers (H visa)
- Representatives of foreign media (I visa)
- Exchange visitors (J visa)
- Intracompany transferees (L visa)
- Academic (F visa) or vocational (M visa) students (you may attend elementary, middle or high school only: if you want to attend post-secondary school full-time you must apply for a change of status)
Our Los Angeles immigration attorneys, we are dedicated to our clients and will strive to meet all of your immigration or visa needs. Call or email us for a free initial consultation.
Am I eligible to change my U.S. visa status with USCIS?
You may be eligible to apply for change of status in the U.S. if:
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa
- Your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid
- You have not committed any crimes or other acts that make you ineligible for a visa
- You have not violated the conditions of your admission
- There is no other factor that (in the sole discretion of USCIS) would warrant requiring you to depart the U.S. and make a reentry with a different visa classification
- Your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay
Our Los Angeles visa lawyers focus exclusively on immigration law. Our dedication to immigration law has allowed us to acquire in-depth knowledge of the frequently changing laws and regulations under which foreign nationals may enter or immigrate to the United States. For your free initial consultation, please call or email our lawyers now.
Will I be able to change my immigration status?
Not all nonimmigrants in the U.S. are allowed to change their nonimmigrant status. If you were admitted in certain nonimmigrant visa categories, there may be specific restrictions concerning your ability to request a change in nonimmigrant status.
Employment-Based Categories for Nonimmigrant Visa Change of Status in the U.S.:
If you want to change your status to one of the following employment-based nonimmigrant categories, you must have an employer willing to sponsor you for a visa. Please read our section on changing your status to an employment-based category.
Non-employment Based Categories for Nonimmigrant Visa Change of Status in the U.S.
You may wish to change your status to a nonimmigrant category even if you are already in the United States on an approved. Read our section on Change of Status applications here.
How do I request a change of nonimmigrant status with USCIS?
There are two methods available most nonimmigrants who wish to change to another nonimmigrant status. The application procedure depends on which type of nonimmigrant status you currently have and which type of nonimmigrant visa you would like to have.
In order to assess which situation applies to you, please contact our immigration attorney now for a FREE consultation.
When should I request the change of status from USCIS?
You must apply before your current status expires. Processing times vary, but certain types of cases may experience delays due to time consuming governmental processes, so you will want to leave plenty of time by filing early. Waiting until the last moment is never a good idea. We recommend that you apply as soon as you determine that your reason for coming to the US has changed and you need to change to a different nonimmigrant category. You cannot start new employment or become a student without first being approved for your change of status.
It is important to mention again that your application to change your nonimmigrant category must be received by the USCIS before your current nonimmigrant status expires. The date your status expires can be found in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). You should have received a Form I-94 when you legally entered the U.S. If possible, the USCIS recommends that you should apply to change your status no later than 60 days before your I-94 is set to expire. You may apply six months before your I-94 expires to have your status changed. If your status expired before you filed a change of status application with the USCIS, then you are considered “out of status” and are no longer eligible to change your status.
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 immigration consultation.
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.
My nonimmigrant visa has expired. Can I still submit a late filing for a change of nonimmigrant status with the USCIS?
If your current status expired before you filed an application with the USCIS to change your status, or if you have otherwise violated the terms of your status, such as by working without authorization, then you are out of status. You may still be able to apply for a change of status. For more information on changing your status if your previous visa expired, please read more on our section here.
What is Immigrant Intent and How Can it Affect My Nonimmigrant Visa application?
The presumption of immigrant intent with regard to your proposed trip to the United States is one of the main obstacles you may encounter when applying for your visa. In order to overcome this presumption, it is important to demonstrate to the consular officer that the trip is temporary and that you have a residence in a foreign country, which you have no intention of abandoning. Depending upon the particular facts of the case, varying approaches may be taken to accomplish this, and not all visas are subject to the presumption of immigration intent. Please read more on the topic of immigrant intent here.
If you have any questions regarding whether immigrant intent will be an issue for your visa, please call or email our Los Angeles immigration and visa attorneys today for assistance.
I am eligible for a change of status, and filed on time. Will USCIS approve my application?
There is no guarantee that a change of status will be approved because it is not automatic even if you meet all the requirements. USCIS will look at the facts of your situation, your current status, the reasons you want to change your status, and the reasons you did not apply for this kind of visa before you entered the U.S., and will decide whether to grant your application and, if they grant it, how long they will extend your stay in the new nonimmigrant status. USCIS will not grant a change of status for a reason inconsistent with the terms of the requested status, or where circumstances suggest it would be inappropriate. Don’t forget that you may not engage in activities for which the new nonimmigrant status was sought until USCIS approves your application for change of status. U.S. immigration law and policy provides for changes of status as well as visas, but it is important that you provide the right information and submit the correct applications.
What is a public charge in U.S. immigration law and how can it affect my visa application or change of status?
A “public charge” means an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. A number of factors must be considered when making a determination that a person is likely to become a public charge. Considerations include age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor, other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required, will determine whether an individual is a public charge.
The issue of “public charge” has been an integral part of U.S. immigration policy for many years. Public charge is a ground of inadmissibility and deportation. An individual who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a legal permanent resident. However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual a public charge. If you are a noncitizen, you will have to make an informed choice about whether to apply for certain public benefits. Some noncitizens and their families are eligible for public benefits, including disaster relief, treatment of communicable diseases, immunizations, and children’s nutrition and health care programs, without being found to be a public charge. For more information, please read our section on public charge.
If you have any questions about your public benefits and whether you are or will be considered a public charge, please call or email our experienced U.S. immigration lawyer now.
Am I required to file an affidavit of support for my U.S. visa?
An Affidavit of Support is a form that a qualified individual (a sponsor) files on your behalf when you are applying for a green card or immigrant visa under certain family-related provisions. The purpose of the form is to show that you have the financial means to live in the United States without needing welfare or financial benefits from the U.S. government. The law requires that the sponsor demonstrate that he or she is able to assist you financially. The sponsor must show that he or she has an annual income of not less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal poverty guidelines are set once a year, and can be found on Form I-864P, Poverty Guidelines. For more information on Affidavits of Support, please see our section here.
Concurrent Change of Nonimmigrant Status for Dependents
If your employer files a Petition for Alien Worker for you, then your spouse and child(ren) under the age of 21 must complete and file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. They must also submit any required supporting documents to change to a new nonimmigrant category. It is best to submit both forms at the same time. If you are changing your own status, you may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 on your application if you are all in the same nonimmigrant category, or if your spouse or children were given derivative nonimmigrant status.
Derivative nonimmigrant status means that your spouse and children were given nonimmigrant visas based on your nonimmigrant status. For instance, if a student is given an F-1 "Academic Student" visa, then the spouse and child are given F-2 "Spouse and Child of an Academic Student" visas. Remember, though, that they are separate applications, and, therefore, you and your family members (and your employer) should file all the supporting documents with each application, even when filing forms together. This process has multiple steps that must be coordinated correctly for the best results. For help in changing the visa status of your dependents at the same time, call JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office for a free initial consultation.
How do I check the status of my Change of Status Application?
After you file your application, the USCIS will mail you a receipt. This receipt will provide you with the number assigned to track your application, as well as the projected processing time. Your receipt will also give instructions about how you can use this receipt number to check on the status of your case.
Appealing a USCIS Decision Regarding your Change of Status
If your application to change your nonimmigrant status is denied, you will receive a letter that will detail the reason(s) why the application was denied. You may submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the same office that made the unfavorable decision. By filing these motions, you are asking the office to either reexamine or reconsider their decision. While both motions seek the same outcome they are very different in nature. A motion to reopen must state new facts that are to be provided in the reopened proceeding and must be accompanied by affidavits or other documentary evidence. A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision was based on an incorrect application of the law or USCIS policy, and must further establish that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in the file at the time the decision was made. Immigration litigation at the administrative or federal court level is a very serious matter.
It is very important to contact an immigration attorney who specializes in immigration law to develop a case strategy and optimal results. Please contact us at (213) 738-8700 to receive a free consultation today.