How I arrived in the US for a tour and legally stayed forever
Come to the States as a tourist and stay: there are such stories in America all the time. Someone is lucky and manages to change status, someone's story ends very sadly, with the loss of status and life with constant fear. I flew to the United States on a tourist visa three years ago, just to see. The return ticket remained unclaimed. All these years in America I have been legally.
In my profile on Facebook several subscriptions to immigrant sites - groups, pages, specialized publications. A sea of information every day, hundreds of stories of those who decided to live at least two lives within one and flew from the other side of the Atlantic for the new "I". All this can be easily drowned, endlessly reading status updates, but, on the contrary, I feel much more confident among the choir of immigrant voices, so different and similar at the same time.
My American story also began online. Having invented a dream - New York - I began to make inquiries on the forums, selecting the most acceptable scenarios for myself. Studying in the USA seemed like the most realistic action plan.
No, not college. My English then did not reach, the bank account - all the more. But the school ... For some reason, at that time I did not even consider the option of obtaining a study visa, it seemed to me that it was easier to get a tourist one, and on the spot you could figure out the further course of action. And there was no certainty that I would stay.
I was planning a raid. To disembark in the new territory, look around, taste American life - at least for you.
This was the first mistake I still regret. Having a student visa in my hands, I could safely go on a vacation home, or just travel. But the change of status is like a door without a handle: slammed - then look for another way out.
No, of course, everything is not so sad, and a change of status is, first of all, an opportunity to see the United States as closely as only its permanent residents see this country. International schools are small windows to the vast world through which, in addition to America itself, you can see the culture of dozens of other countries. At my school I met and made friends with guys from Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Poland, Italy, the Philippines, Turkey, Slovakia, Moldova. The list is far from complete!
Yes, I was lucky with the school. Everything somehow coincided - a friend who had been in the United States for a long time, advised this particular educational institution. The first acquaintance was easy, my manager (more correctly - International Admission Representative) I liked at first sight. We talked, quickly outlined a plan of action, and after two months, I, with the help of my school, prepared documents for changing status.
I will never forget those nervous days and nights when you wake up in the middle of the night because a list of documents rushes in your head that you need to remember to bring to school. Or the fear that “they will not approve” does not allow to close my eyes.
Most of all, I was afraid that USCIS would require additional evidence of close ties with the homeland: certificates of real estate (which are not available) or notification from work that they would wait for me for as long as necessary (most would agree that such employers in nature practically do not exist).
For those who are thinking about changing their status even before getting on a plane in their home country, I have a few recommendations.
First, do not talk about these plans. Do not discuss either by phone or in social networks. Arriving in the United States on the same type of visa with plans to get a different status is a deliberate lie, and if you catch it, the consequences can be severe, and American doors can slam in your face for many years. Silence is gold.
In this case, you can silently prepare the documents that you need to change the status. Be sure to take with you:
- Diploma or school certificate
- A certificate from the housing office about the presence of residence. Also, do not interfere with any accounts in your name at this address (for utilities, telephone, Internet, etc.)
- If you own any real estate or land (even a small proportion matters) - carry documents.
- The same applies to their own, albeit small, business.
- You can take a certificate from the place of work that you will be taken back to work when you return home after completing the curriculum (student status is changed to learn. This is important to remember).
With the last item you need to be careful. If during the status change process (which takes about one year according to the latest data), you will be asked to confirm once again that your workplace is still vacant, but you cannot do this for some reason, the case will be rejected.
It is also important to adhere to the initial information. If at the beginning of the process you sent a letter from one employer, and then submit a new letter from another, the trick will not work. Therefore, it is important to adhere to the initial information.
Finally, the most important document is a certificate of a bank account.
You must have at least $ 12.000 on your account. The account can be in any currency, in any country (preferably still in the home), your and or your sponsor (relative, friend).
In my case, I only had that certificate from the bank. But a miracle happened and I “slipped”. The status I changed 5 months later. Unprecedented speed! I could say that the professionalism of the manager at the school helped. Of course, this is important, however, I understand that I “slipped”.
And now, after two years of study, I was lucky again. I was taken to work in the school office - to help new students with registration, getting a visa and changing their status.
Many people know that the only opportunity to legally work in the US for holders of a visa or F1 status is to work on the campus of the school where you study. It sounds simple, but in good schools, managers have been working for years, many already with green cards or even American passports. It is possible that it is easier to find work for students in colleges, but the cost of education is several times higher there. Therefore, such work is really a chance.
I looked out for my chance from the moment I entered the school, I can say it was laying siege, preparing to offer my candidacy as soon as the first opportunity appears. How many nerves have been spent during these three years, nights are not sleeping, tears are crying out. But, looking back all the way that I walked myself through pure persistence, I do not regret anything.
To help others solve the same problems that they faced? This is really a worthwhile job. Plus, two years of active learning of English in the “environment”, and I am already compiling a package of documents to be sent to the Immigration Service and doing work that at least the paralegals do.
Of course, I do not go beyond. My competence is F1, and if difficult cases come across, I always advise you to contact a lawyer. But otherwise I feel how I strengthen and expand my knowledge every day. Something new is always happening, a sea of read information, consultations on the topic of lawyers. And personal stories behind each case of status change.
Now we have five girls in our office - from Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and I, a Ukrainian. Wide geography allows us to easily find a common language with almost 90% of people calling to school. Many of my colleagues have been working here for more than five years.
Our supervisor, a girl from South Korea, has been at school for ten years, and still, she says, she continues to learn, because the US immigration policy is quite volatile, and the news of the last year is another proof of that.
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