A foreign national can change status while in the US without leavening the US. How to change status (not visa) in the US? This can be done by filing Form I-539. The filing fee to the Department of Homeland Security is $290. There are several issues that must be addressed before filing such petition:
- One of them is maintaining a valid status prior to filing. Only a valid status can be changed. If a foreign national violated the conditions of his/her current status, the change of status petition will not be approved.
- One of the most common violation is an overstay. There are could be others as well. F
Before filing you have to know what status you want to change to:
- To go to school in the US, a foreign national can be in an F-1 status.
- To do work under certain approved programs: J-1
- To work in a specialty occupation: H-1B.
- If you spouse is an H-1B, you can change your status to H-4 without leaving the US. In this situation the spouse must maintain a valid H-1 status in order to have an H-4 dependent.
If someone was in school full-time as an F-1 student, he can apply for an OPT to get an employment authorization document. Anytime before or after OPT a foreign national can change his or her status to a different nonimmigrant status, such as Tourist. An extensive explanation must be made what the student indents to do as a tourist, and, most importantly, the availability of funds to cover the tourist activities must be shown.
Almost any status can be changed to another status. There is a common misconception that an immigrant must leave the US and go to a US embassy again to enter under a different visa. Well, this is not necessarily the case. An experienced immigration lawyers can easily spot the best visas/statuses to change to. Some visas/status are more difficult to obtain than others. Certain statuses are hard to get rid of or “relinquish” as the law puts it. For example, diplomatic status (A-1, A-1 visas) or employees of inter national organizations (G-4 visas) are very tricky to deal with. Others are hard to get (H-1B, L-1, O-1 categories).
One important note: before applying for a new status, an applicant must be eligible to it. The the petition must not be “frivolous”. Some applicants request a change of status to dodge the inadmissibility bar and to “win” more time. Usually, it is not a good idea.