How to change immigration status while in America - ForumDaily
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How to change the immigration status, being in America

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

There are about 40 different types of US nonimmigrant visas. Some allow temporary work in the United States, others allow tourists to travel, students to study, and diplomats to work for their country in America. The period of stay in the United States for different non-immigrant visas varies. However, what if you are in the US and need to change your visa type? ForumDaily translated the official explanation of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, how to apply for changing the current status of a non-immigrant to another non-immigration status while staying in the United States.

When can I change my status in the USA?

You can apply for status changes in the United States if you:

  • Lawfully entered the country in the status of non-immigrant;
  • You have not committed any wrongdoing that could deprive you of the right to receive immigration benefits;
  • There are no other factors that require your departure from the United States to obtain another non-immigrant status (for example, a USCIC officer may determine that you need another visa to re-enter the US);
  • You apply for status change by mail or online using USCIC ELIS beforehow to expire printing in your document or on form I-94, fixing the date of arrival and departure from the country. (In some circumstances, USCIS may allow filing after the expiration).

Note: Your passport must be valid for the duration of your new non-immigrant status in the United States.

When can I change my status in the USA?

If you come in one of the following non-immigrant categories, you cannot change your status and must leave the United States:

СAlien in transit
DCrew / crew member
K-1 or K-2Groom / Bride or Groom / Bride Dependents
K-3 or K-4Some spouses of American citizens and their dependent children
SWitness or informer
TwovTransit without visa
WT or WBUnder the visa-free entry program


If you entered the United States in one of the following categories of non-immigrants, there are certain restrictions on how you can apply for a change in non-immigrant status:

J-1Persons under the exchange program who are obliged to live in their country 2 after the end of the visa cannot change their status, with some exceptions
M-1Vocational school students cannot change status to F-1

A vocational school student cannot change the status to any of the H categories - if training in a vocational school helped him / her to qualify for H classification.


If you are in one of the above categories, you must leave the United States before the expiration of your I-94 form.

How to apply for a change in status of a non-immigrant?

Applying depends on the category you wish to receive:

Working categories:

If you want to change your status to one of the following working nonimmigrant categories, your future employer must fill form I-129 - a non-immigrant worker request, before the expiration of your I-94 form. The I-129 form helps to establish that:

  • You will be doing work that is included in the non-immigration category you are applying for and
  • You personally meet all requirements regarding status changes. You must not start working in a new status until USCIS approves your request for status change.
E-1 and E-2Contract traders and investors, as well as their employees
E-3Qualified Australian Specialists
H-1B, H-2A, H-2B or H-3Temporary skilled and unskilled workers and trainees
L-1A or L-1BEmployees transferred within the company
O-1 or O-2Foreigners with extraordinary skills and their assistants
P-1, P-2 or P-3Athletes and entertainers
Q-1Visitors to the international cultural exchange
R-1Religious workers
TN-1 or TN-2Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

For each of these categories, there are restrictions, including regarding the length of stay in the country. To find out more, contact an employer who has offered you a job or a qualified immigration consultant.

Note: If your potential employer is applying form I-129 to change your status, and your spouse and unmarried children up to 21 also want to change their status, to stay on your content, they need to file form I-539 - application for renewal / change of non-immigrant status. They can file one form at all. I-129 and I-539 forms are best served together to be considered at the same time. However, these are separate statements, and you should keep this in mind. By each of these applications, you, your employer and your relatives must submit all documents according to the instructions, even if applications are submitted together.

Other categories:

If you want to change your status to one of the following, you need to submit an I-539 form:

АDiplomats and other government officials, their families and employees
B-1 and B-2Tourist and business visa
E-1 and E-2Contract dependents and investors, as well as their employees
E-3Dependents of skilled professionals from Australia
FAcademic staff and their dependents
GRepresentatives of foreign government bodies, their closest relatives and employees
H-4Dependents of temporary skilled and unskilled workers and trainees
L-2Dependents of internal transfers
МVocational school students and their dependents
NParents and children of certain individuals who have received special immigrant status
NATORepresentatives, officials, NATO staff and their families
About-3Dependents of foreigners with extraordinary skills and their assistants
P-4Dependents of athletes and entertainment workers
R-2Dependents of Religious Workers
TDDependents of Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Note: All family members (spouse, and unmarried children up to 21) who request the same change of non-immigrant category can be entered into one I-539 form. Do not forget to submit all necessary supporting documents with your application.

Where can I submit a form I-539?

USCIS no longer takes the form I-539. By this link On the third page of the document you will find a list of addresses where you can send a request by mail. Additional information and instructions for completing the I-539 form can be found. here. If you have filled out this form online recently, you have access to the electronic version of the application. You can also respond to requests for additional documents, check the status of the application and update your account.

More information on how to apply using the USCIS ELIS can be found. here.

Can I change my status if my previous permission to stay in the US has expired?

If your stay in the United States expired before you applied for status change to USCIS, or if you otherwise violated the rules for staying in the United States (for example, you worked without permission), then you are “out of status”.

For “out-of-status” individuals, USCIS cannot allow a change in status except in circumstances beyond your control. The fact that you stayed in the United States longer than allowed is likely to adversely affect your ability to receive other benefits or return to the United States. If you are “out of status,” the Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends leaving the United States in order not to be prohibited from re-entering the country in the future.

When is the best time to apply and how long will it take to process it?

The time for consideration of applications depends on many factors. Online USCIS There is information about the review time at the moment. USCIS recommends submitting documents at least 45 days before the expiration of your I-94 form.

If I meet the criteria for changing the status and submit an application on time, will it be approved?

Changing the status does not pass automatically. USCIS will consider your situation, the reasons why you want to change your current status, and the reasons why you did not apply for this visa initially. After that, a decision will be made regarding the satisfaction or rejection of your application. In the case of its satisfaction, you will be told how prolonged your stay in the USA is in the new status of a non-immigrant. The status can be changed only for reasons that correspond to the conditions for obtaining this status or if such a change is necessary.

When can I start engaging in activities permitted by the new status of a non-immigrant for whom I am applying?

Only after thatas USCIS approves.

What to do if the status change application is submitted by me in a timely manner, but USCIS I did not have time to decide on it before the expiration of my form I-94?

In this case, you have a legal stay in the United States and you become “out of status”, even if you filed a request for a change of status in a timely manner. As a rule, in prudent cases, USCIS will postpone the procedures regarding you until a decision is made on your application.

However, the Department of Homeland Security may initiate a deportation process against you, even though your application has been accepted for review.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

Although in such a case you are in the illegal status of a non-immigrant, you are not charged an “illegal presence” under the terms of article 212 (a) (9) (B) of the immigration law, while you wait for the result of the application, if you have submitted it in a timely manner and until the expiration of the I-94 form.

If your status change request is approved, the status change is considered from the moment the I-94 form expires. Your status for waiting for the results of consideration of the application is considered legal.

If your application is rejected, you may have to leave the United States immediately.

In addition, any non-immigrant visa in your passport issued in connection with your classification is no longer valid. When this happens, you must apply for a new visa to the US consulate in your country (not in a third country, except in rare cases stipulated by the US Department of State).

Where can check status Applications after filing application documents?

I-539 Paper Form Feed
After submitting the form you will receive a check in the mail. It will contain the tracking number of your application and the estimated time of receipt of the result. There will also be instructions on how to check the status of your application using this number on the USCIS website.

If you filed a form I-539 online
In this case, you have created an account. You can access your business through the site, there to respond to requests for additional documents, check the status of the application and update your account.

The site you can download forms, submit some applications online, check the status of the application, etc. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can get it at your local library. If you did not find what you were looking for, contact the customer support line: 800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 for people with hearing problems.

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