Due to a new policy change, individuals who have applied for change of status (COS) to F-1 will no longer be required to extend their nonimmigrant status because a COS to F-1 will now be effective on the day of their COS approval. But what does that mean for students with an H-1B visa currently living in North Carolina?

H-1B Policy Change Explained

As of July 20, 2021, a new policy guidance became effective through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that will allow the process for COS to F-1 more streamline and prevent a gap in status. Prior to this policy change, the USCIS would typically require applicants to file multiple visa extensions to ensure there was no gap in status during the time it took for the extension application and F-1 status was being approved, which are typically provided in the fall. Due to their earlier visa expiring and their student visa (H-1b visa) not being valid for up to 30 days, some individuals have had to leave the country. 

With the new policy guidance, USCIS will now grant COS to F-1 effective on the same day the applicant’s COS (Form I-539) is approved. If the student is approved more than 30 days before their program is set to begin, “the student must ensure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time.” This new policy was established to allow for lower costs for applicants as well as lessen workloads at USCIS eventually leading to the optimum solution, “to get rid of per country limits and add more visas.”

Break Down of Different Forms and Applications Mentioned

To ensure you understand the new policy, we have provided a simple breakdown of the different forms the new policy affects.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B Visa is used by North Carolina employers to hire a limited number of foreign workers in specialty occupations. For this policy in particular, it is referring to the dependents of H-1B Visa holders who are nonimmigrants based on their student status, or an F-1 visa, which we will discuss next. 

F-1 Visa

The F-1 Visa is provided to children or individuals who will be continuing their educational studies in the U.S. Please note, if the visa is for a dependent, it is referred to as F-2 instead of F-1. The F-1 Visa is to be used regardless of if the individual is attending a college/university, high school, elementary school, public or private. Students living in North Carolina who have completed their learning program, are allowed to remain in the U.S. for an additional 60 days after program completion. If the student would prefer to remain in North Carolina, or anywhere else in the U.S., they will be required to update the visa status. 

Form I-539

Form 1-539 is the form used when a nonimmigrant currently living in the country off of an F-1 visa needs to change or extend their status. It is commonly referred to as the “application to extend/change nonimmigrant status.” This is used to determine the individual’s COS. Due to the policy change, the individual’s nonimmigrant status will change on the same day their COS is approved, eliminating the need to file for an extension on the expiring Visa. 

Need Help Completing Your Nonimmigrant Forms and Applications?

Let the Law Offices of Neelam Bhardwaj provide the assistance you require. With over 30 years of experience in immigration law and services, Attorney Neelam Bhardwaj is an expert in her field. Whether you need help gathering the right documents for your application, or require assistance completing any of the necessary forms, or even if you need to prepare for your application interview, contact us today and we will be more than happy to make the process as easy as possible for you.

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