Overview/Description

People visit the United States for many different reasons, such as tourism, starting a business venture or visiting family members and friends. While you are in the U.S. your circumstances may change and you may want to extend your stay because of a sick family member, or change your nonimmigrant status because you are accepted to a university. There are procedures you must follow to change your nonimmigrant status from one category to another. For example, an individual may enter on a B-2 visa for tourism but then decide to go to school. In this case the individual would have to change status from a B-2 visa to an F-1 Visa. Similarly, if a student on an F-1 visa wanted to start a business, he/she would have to change from an F-1 visa to an E-2 visa. This process is called a “Change of Status.”

Requirements/Eligibility
You can change status if you are in the U.S. in valid immigration status and you meet the requirements for the status you are changing to. You cannot change status if you entered on the visa waiver program. Also, certain other non-immigrant visas do not permit changing status (eg. M-1 to F-1 or J visas).

Application Process
You must apply to extend or change your nonimmigrant status before the expiration date on your I-94. It is important that you do not change your activities until you receive approval from USCIS for the change in status. For example, if you enroll in school and begin attending classes before you receive USCIS approval, you will be acting outside of the authorized activities for your current status under the tourist visa. This failure to maintain status could lead to future bars to entry or to you being removed from the U.S.. Violating the terms and conditions of your status also makes you ineligible for a change of status.

You are allowed to remain in the U.S. until USCIS makes a decision on your application if the following requirements are met:

1. USCIS received the application before your nonimmigrant status expired;
2. You have not violated the terms of your status; and
3. You meet the basic eligibility requirements for the new visa.

Although you may remain in the U.S. while your application is being processed you still need to pay attention to the expiration date of your current nonimmigrant status. Once the I-94 expires you will not have a new nonimmigrant status until USCIS approves your application. This means you will not be allowed to conduct business or work in the U.S. after the expiration date, even if your previous nonimmigrant status allowed you to do so.

You will not be considered “out of status” while your application is being processed but if USCIS denies your change of status application, you will be deemed to have been “out of status” for the entire period that you remained in the U.S. after your nonimmigrant status expired. Once you receive the denial from USCIS you will be required to depart from the U.S. immediately.

How Long Does It Last For?
If granted, the new status will be valid up until the date on your approval notice. If you leave the U.S., you will require a visa to reenter and your status is generally terminated.

How are Family Members Treated?
Family members can usually change status along with the primary applicant.

Other Considerations or Related Articles

What is the Difference Between Extension of Status, Change of Status, and Adjustment of Status?

Common Questions and Answer

What is the Difference Between Extension of Status, Change of Status, and Adjustment of Status?

Fees
Fees will vary with each application.