If you are changing status to F-1 from a non-immigrant status that does not permit you to study in the U.S., you will need to be careful when filing your F-1 Change of status petition as there are very specific rules when filing this type of petition.
If your current status does not allow you to enroll in classes, then you will need to wait until your F-1 Change of Status petition is approved by USCIS, as otherwise you would be violating your immigration status.
You will have to maintain a valid status during the whole time the change of status petition is pending. Additionally, if your current status expires more than 30 days before your program start date, you will need to file what is called a “bridge the gap petition” – either a change or extension of status petition in which you will ask for a status for up to 30 days before your program start date. Please note that it is extremely important that you file the bridge petition, as if you have any gap in your status, USCIS will deny the petition.
You are in the U.S. on a J-1 visa and your grace period is up on July 1, 2021. The program start date is August 15, 2021. It’s now beginning of June and you still have not heard from USCIS on your J-1 to F-1 Change of Status petition. In this case, you should file a bridge petition to for example a B-2 status until the next new program start date (probably in January) and so you are in a valid status until the program starts. If USCIS does not approve it in time, your will need to reach out to your DSO, defer attendance, and file a bridge petition so you can legally stay in the U.S. while the F1 change of status petition is pending.
Please note that this is a complex immigration law area and you should reach out to an immigration attorney to help you with filing the
Please see here for our blog post on whether you can work in the U.S. while here on an F-1 status.
You can read our blog post on What is Sevis when you click here.
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