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Things to watch out for when adjusting status to an F-1 visa 

Gary J. Kim

Recently, the USCIS has been rejecting or requesting additional documentation for an increasing number of cases related to petitions to adjust immigration status. This is especially true for those looking to change to a student F-1 visa.

Even if you have already submitted documentation for an I-20 form and F-1 visa, if your F-1 status is pending, you cannot attend school. If your pending status continues into the start date of a school program, you need to postpone enrollment until the following semester. In most cases, the school’s DSO knows how to handle these situations.

The most important thing to know is that you must maintain a valid immigration status at least 30 days before the school program start date listed on your I-20.

Let’s take a look at an example. If your current immigration status expires on Nov. 30, and the program start date on the I-20 form for your F-1 visa is set for March 1, then the time gap between the two dates is more than 30 days. In a case like this, you must file a B-2 form along with the F-1 request to account for the gap.

That means you must file two separate I-539 forms: One to adjust your status to an F-1 visa, and the other to request you be adjusted to a B-2 visa during the time gap.

This procedure is written in the USCIS’s Bridge Application Policy, and is strictly followed.

Recently, cases that fall under the Bridge Gap Policy have been closely screened. If you are looking to change your status to the F-1 visa, it’s strongly recommended that you speak with a lawyer before proceeding.

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