US Immigration News

What’s the New Policy Updates to the F-1 Visa?

2.25 minute read
"The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a new policy update for the F-1 Visa category. This could benefit thousands of children of the H-1B Visa holders. "
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Aug 15, 2021
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The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a new policy update for the F-1 Visa category. This could benefit thousands of children of the H-1B Visa holders. 

What Was the Previous Policy for the F-1 Visa?

The previous policy required nonimmigrants to obtain the F-1 Visa at least 30 days before the start date of their study program. Also, the program start date had to be mentioned on Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. According to the USCIS, it was difficult to align the adjudication of the Change of Status (COS) to the F-1 Visa category due to the varying start dates for study programs. 

This often led to many applicants filing for multiple extensions to avoid having a “gap” status. Filing multiple extensions also increased the administrative burden and the cost of processing for both the applicant and the government. 

What Is the New Policy Update for the F-1 Visa?

The new policy will require the applicants to have valid status as a nonimmigrant in the United States to file Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the USCIS. The USCIS may then grant the applicant with an F-1 Visa 30 days before the start of the study program. It will be effective the day it is approved. 

The applicant will be required to demonstrate to the USCIS that they will not violate their status during this period. This means that they can not take up any unauthorized jobs or be employed on-campus.

Under this new policy, there is no longer a need to maintain your initial nonimmigrant visa up until the approval date of your Form I-539 for the F-1 Visa. This eliminates the need for applicants to file for multiple extensions while Form I-539 is being processed with the USCIS. 

Earlier, applicants used to file for another nonimmigrant visa status to maintain their status in the US while the USCIS was still processing their Form I-539. The USCIS takes up to a year to adjudicate Form I-539. This forced many applicants to file forms requesting an extension for B-2 Visa to fill the gap as the F-1 Visa category requires applicants to have no gaps in their immigration status.

What Are the Advantages of the New Policy Update?

This new policy update will help the USCIS limit costs of filing and processing multiple applications for extension of nonimmigrant status while an applicant’s Form I-539 is still pending.

This policy update will also prove to be a great help to the children of H-1B Visa holders who are on the verge of turning 21. They will now be able to request a change of status to the F-1 Visa. According to the Cato Institute, more than 136,000 dependent children of the H-1B Visa holders suffered due to a backlog of employment-based green card applications.

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