You are given the F-1 status and visa primarily to enable you pursue your education or attend a program of study in the U.S. and you are expected to pursue this purpose. But if you later have a change of purpose, you can change your F-1 status to the non-immigrant status you want in so far as you meet the requirements. Getting a new status can be challenging and somewhat stressful. There are two different ways through which you can change your F-1 status to another non-immigrant status. The following are your options:
Apply for a new visa outside of the U.S. As visas are not issued in the U.S., if you prefer applying for a new visa, you have to leave the United States to your country of origin or your country of permanent residence or another country of your choice. Apply for a new visa that will enable you to obtain the new status you want. The advantage of this option is that it does not take much time for the new visa and new status to be issued. Secondly, you will achieve two things at the same time, a new visa and a new status. However, it can be expensive given the travel expenses.
You can also change your F-1 status in the U.S. If you prefer changing your status in the U.S., you are required to apply for a change of status to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your application is accepted, a new status will be issued to you but your visa will not be changed because visas are not issued in the U.S. It may take up three to six months for your application to be processed. As you cannot start pursuing your new objective until your status is changed, it is advisable that you apply for a change of status some months ahead of the start date of your new program.
When you apply for a change of status in the U.S., you are expected to remain in the U.S. until your application is processed and a new status is given to you. If you travel out of the U.S., the application will be cancelled. If a new status is given to you and you travel out of the U.S., you are required to obtain a visa stamp that will suit the new status, unless you take a short trip of not more 30 days to Mexico or Canada.
Note that it is possible for your application for a change of your F-1 status to be denied. If it is denied, you may be required to leave the U.S. immediately. You are not eligible to change your F-1 status if you have reached the expiration date of your authorized stay. A violation of the terms and conditions of your current status also disqualifies you from applying for a change of status.
For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional attorney.