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Visa Issues: Changing Status
If you are already in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visa, and you would like to change your status to a student, you first must apply to study at an USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. If you are accepted, the school should send you USCIS Form I-20 A-B/IID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - for Academic and Language Students). You must submit this form and an USCIS Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) at USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). You must also prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States.
A Nonimmigrant may qualify for a change of nonimmigrant status if:
∑ you lawfully maintain your present nonimmigrant status in a category that is not ineligible for a change in status
∑ you are eligible according to immigration regulations for the nonimmigrant status you are requesting
∑ you have not violated any law which would keep you from being granted this benefit
If you are not able to complete his studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form, you must apply to the school's foreign student advisor for an extension at least 30 days before the expiration date. Usually extensions will granted if the student provides academic or medical reasons.
If you change degree programs (such as from a bachelorís degree to a masterís degree program), you will need to get a new I-20 form and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of beginning the new program. No changes need to be made to the I-20 form simply a change of major.
In order to transfer to another school, you will need to notify the current school of the transfer and obtain an I-20 form from the new school. You must provide the foreign student advisor at the new school with the completed I-20 form within 15 days of beginning classes at the new school.
Renewing a student visa
All applicants applying for renewals must provide the following items.
∑ A passport valid for at least six months.
∑ A completed and signed application form (DS-156) with a photo for each person applying.
A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parentís passport. These forms are available at the consular office at no charge.
∑ Payment for the processing fee for each applicant.
∑ ∑ new I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months.
All applicants applying for renewals should also be prepared to submit:
∑ A certified copy of his grades from the school in which he is enrolled.
∑ Financial documents (from him or his sponsor) showing the ability to cover the cost of schooling.
If you are late filing for a change of nonimmigrant status and your current status has already expired, you must prove that:
∑ The delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
∑ The length of the delay was reasonable;
∑ You have not done anything else to violate your nonimmigrant status (such as work without USCIS approval);
∑ You are still a nonimmigrant (This means that you are not trying to become a permanent resident of the United States. There are some exceptions.); and
∑ You are not in formal proceedings to remove (deport) you from the country.
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