In this article you will read about:
As we get ready to understand the change of status, we also recommend you to spend a little time understanding more about the H-1B visa.
A non-immigrant's purpose for remaining in the US must always be reflected in the visa status. When the purpose for the visit changes, there must be a corresponding change in status. The process for effecting a change of status can be long and complex. Timing is of the essence. If you are attempting a change of status, it must be effected so that it will be enforced before you fall out of status.
Let's discuss the change of visa status in detail below.
Any immigrant entering the US does so for a specific purpose reflected in the visa they have been provided. A status change is required when their purpose for being in the US changes during their stay. Different visa categories afford different privileges to the holder, but in general, there are two ways in which a change of visa status can be affected:
The time involved in effecting a change of status maybe six months or more. Let's take a detailed review of processing times involved in the status change.
Change of status through exit and re-entry
Changing your visa status by exiting the US and re-entering on a different visa category will involve a visit to a US consulate office outside the United States. You will need to have the new visa stamped into your passport. An additional three-month period will have to be factored in for security-check processes. You will be allotted a re-entry date that is generally one month before I-20 or DS2019 starting date. If you find any delays in your re-entry date, please notify your department immediately.
Change of status from within the US
When applying for a status change from within the US, you must keep in mind that processing times vary widely and cannot be predicted. The USCIS processing of change of status requests has varied from four to nineteen months over the past few years.
Processing time will include the period of Biometrics collection and other procedures. It would be best if you remained in the US during the change of status processing. Your petition will be considered 'abandoned' if you leave the country while the procedure is ongoing. If applying for certain visa categories like the J-1, leaving the country while the process is pending will incur serious consequences.
Premium Processing is a special program that can be applied to certain applications by eligible applicants. Premium processing allows for faster processing and guaranteed timelines. For an additional fee, the USCIS will guarantee a response within fifteen days, failing which a refund will be processed while the expedited processing continues and reaches completion.
To put the Premium Process into motion, you will have to file a special Premium Processing Form I-907 and the change of status Form I-539. Fill in the form as per instructions provided in the latest version and file it with the required additional fee for Premium Processing.
Premium Processing may turn out to be long-winded for many visa categories. For example, if a non-immigrant on an F1 visa has met the eligibility for changing to H1B status, Premium Processing can only be applied following certain procedures. The sponsoring H1B employer will first have to file an LCA (Labor Condition Application) with the US Department of Labor, file a completed Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, Form I-129, and the Classification Supplement, I-129 H. Only once these procedures are completed can the sponsoring employer file for premium processing.
USCIS strongly recommends that you file complete applications to avoid processing delays. Make sure to submit Form I-907 to the center processing your application with a copy of your notice of transfer.
Another point to note is that any attempt to file I-907 at a service center without geographic jurisdiction over the petition in one of the following scenarios:
In these cases, applications will be duly rejected by the USCIS.
On the other hand, there will be no rejections forthcoming if the petition was filed at the wrong service center:
USCIS will take responsibility for transferring the I-907 requests to the right service center with geographical jurisdiction
In terms of processing time, incorrectly filed I-907 forms that have been sent to the wrong center will be processed in fifteen days that will be counted once the filing has been properly completed and sent to the correct address. If there is a request for additional documentation or response required for Request for Evidence or a notice of intent to deny, the fifteen-day period will restart once you have completed filing the response.
If everything goes according to plan, the premium processing option for change of visa status applications will be available from 30th March 2022. The fifteen-day period will be available for most petitions and applications, like I-140 or I-129. But a change of visa status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1 or J-2, and extension of stay or change of visa status for dependents of E, L, H, R, P, or O holders will have a thirty-day processing period.
Premium Processing is treated as an additional request that is processed in addition to the standard application request. Apart from the main benefit you have originally applied for, it carries its processing fee. Premium Processing fees will vary depending on the main application request.
According to the USCIS mandates, it is strongly advised that you start your status change application as soon as you determine the need to change into a different visa category. It would help if you also were prepared for the possibility of application rejection. You may have to leave the US when your visa expires if you don't have other options open. In all cases, it is in your best interests to consult a professional to make sure you are making the right decisions.
For more information regarding H1B Visa, visit the TechFetch H1B website - the complete repository of H1B information.
**Disclaimer: Immigration rules and procedures change periodically. Refer online to the official USCIS website for latest updates.**