F-1 Visa and F-1 Reinstatement in San Jose
Student Visa Attorney in Silicon Valley
For students who hope to study in America, the F-1 visa is a popular choice. This visa allows international students to enter the United States in order to study at an accredited school. Hundreds of thousands of students use this to take advantage of the top educational opportunities available at United States schools. According to the State Department, 667,928 student visas were issued in 2015, a number that has grown every year.
How to Obtain an F-1 Visa from Abroad
In order to obtain an F-1 visa, international students must do the following:
- They must first obtain a Form I-20, which is a certificate of eligibility issued by the school which they plan to attend.
- They must then go to the US consulate in their home country and submit the I-20 along with a non-immigrant visa immigration and other supporting documents.
- After obtaining the F-1 visa, the student can travel to the United States and apply at the border for admission.
How to Obtain a Change of Status within the U.S. from a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa to an F-1 Student Visa
In order to obtain a change of status from a B-1/B-2 visitor visa or another nonimmigrant visa, in the change of status application, the prospective student will have to demonstrate that he or she did not have the intent to study in the United States when they first entered on B-1/B-2 status. If, after entering the United States, an individual develops an intent to study then he or she must first wait sixty (60) days after entering the United States on the visitor visa prior to applying for a change of status. Lastly, it is important to note that an individual in B-1/B-2 status may not enroll in a course of study or attend classes prior to obtaining F-1 student status. To do otherwise would result in a violation of the B-1/B-2 nonimmigrant status and the individual would no longer be eligible to change or extend their status within the United States.
New USCIS Guidance for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Attend School in the U.S.
USCIS has recently released new guidance for B-1/B-2 visitors to the United States who seek a change of status to F-1 student status. Normally, in such situations one has to demonstrate the following criteria:
- The reasons for attending school in the U.S.;
- The Applicant’s ties to his/her home country;
- The Applicant’s sources of financial support;
- Demonstrate the Applicant’s intent to return to the home country once the academic program is complete.
As a result of this new policy, the change of status process is not complete with just filing Form I-539 with supporting documentation requesting the change of status. The B-1/B-2 visitor must also file a second Form I-539 with filing fee, as a B-1/B-2 extension application, if the visitor’s status will expire more than 30 days prior to the initial F-1 program start date as listed on Form I-20 or, in the case where USCIS has not yet adjudicated the change of status, if the visitor’s F-1 program start date has to be deferred to the following semester or term. Please note that Designated School Officials (DSOs) are required to defer the academic program if USCIS has not approved the change of status application within five (5) days of the program start date. This B-1/B-2 extension application is known as a “bridge application” as it will bridge the gap between when the B-1/B-2 status expires and the F-1 program start date. This will ensure that there is continuity in the underlying B-1/B-2 status while the change of status application is pending.
If you or your family member are on a B-1/B-2 visa and are seeking to attend school in the United States to further your career and educational goals, please contact Verma Law Firm to speak to an attorney about your case. Our lawyers are fully informed about the latest regulations and government requirements and can always help guide you through the change of status process. For more details on the guidance issued by USCIS, please visit here.
Special Issues and Procedures for F-1 Transfer Students
In order to obtain an F-1 student visa transfer from one school to another, there are several guidelines to keep in mind. Firstly, an F-1 student who continues from one education level to another e.g. from Bachelor’s Program to Master’s Program, or transfers to a different school, must maintain lawful F-1 status in order to complete the transfer. It is important to note that an F-1 student may not remain in the U.S. when transferring between schools or programs unless the student will begin classes at the transfer school or program within five (5) months of transferring out of the current school or within 5 months of the program completion date on his/her current Form I-20, whichever is earlier. Therefore, if more than 5 months elapse during the transfer process, then the F-1 student is required to depart from the U.S. in order to keep from going out of status. In the case of a student on an authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT) period, the student must be able to resume classes within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier. In regards to OPT, as soon as a “transfer out” is initiated on behalf of the student, the OPT period will end even if the EAD is still valid.
One commonly asked question is whether an F-1 student will be able to travel outside of the U.S. while a transfer is pending. The answer is yes, provided certain circumstances are met. The timing of the transfer is very critical in these cases. The student must re-enter the U.S. with a Form I-20 for the school that holds the “Active” or “Initial” record. Typically, if the student already has a valid F-1 visa, he/she will not need a new one. Also, the travel should meet the following requirements: 1) it must be started and completed before the transfer release date with a current Form I-20 from the transfer-out school (current school) OR 2) it must be started and completed after the transfer release date with a Form I-20 from the transfer-in school (new school).
If you or your family member is trying to transfer schools as an F-1 student, please contact Verma Law Firm to speak to an attorney about your case. Our lawyers are fully informed about the latest F-1 student visa regulations and government requirements and can always help guide you through the transfer process.
Losing F-1 Status
Even after obtaining an F-1 visa and coming to the United States, students sometimes lose their status. This can happen for any number of reasons; perhaps the student failed to maintain a certain grade point average and was dismissed from their school, or reduced their course load without authorization, etc. In these situations, schools will revoke the students’ SEVIS authorization, resulting in a loss of F-1 status. These students have several options, depending on the facts of their case.
For some of these students, it may be best to leave the United States and apply for a new F-1 visa from their home country. In other situations, international students who have lost their F-1 status may decide to apply to have their status reinstated. In these cases, after consulting with an attorney, students would obtain admission to another school in the United States, who will issue them a new Form I-20. They should start attending this school while their reinstatement petition is being adjudicated by USCIS.
It is important to consult with a San Jose immigration attorney to determine the best course of action. Call for your consultation with our firm today.
Reinstating Your F-1 Visa
Under current regulation, found at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2, USCIS may grant a status reinstatement if certain requirements are met. In summary, the requirements are:
- The student has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing the reinstatement request, or the failure to file within the five-month period was the result of the exceptional circumstances and the student filed as soon as possible under those circumstances;
- The student does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations;
- The student is currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;
- The student has not engaged in any unauthorized employment;
- The student is not deportable on any grounds (other than failing to maintain F-1 status);
- The student can establish that either 1) the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control OR 2) the violation relates to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have been within a Designated School Official’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.
In order to maximize chances of success, students should consult with a San Jose immigration attorney to determine whether F-1 reinstatement is right for them, and for assistance in preparing a strong F-1 reinstatement application.
Get the Help You Need from Our Silicon Valley Immigration Firm
With extensive experience in the field of immigration, our attorneys at Verma Law Firm offer the aggressive, yet compassionate representation that you need. We know how the systems work and we will work personally with you to achieve your desired visa.
Get your questions answered and begin the process of F-1 visa reinstatement today!
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