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Non-Immigrant Visas Extensions of Status, Changes of Status

Qualifying foreign nationals who hold non-immigrant visas in the U.S. can request an extension of stay (EOS) or change of status…

Qualifying foreign nationals who hold non-immigrant visas in the U.S. can request an extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS). This rule applies to foreign nationals entering the U.S. on tourist or temporary work visas. Each type of visa has a designated time limit, but most visas can be extended if filed on time. Foreign nationals may also be able to change their visa to another visa status, depending on the regulations that apply to that visa type.

Non-Immigrant Visas – Extension of Status

A petitioner must file an extension of status for a foreign national who needs to extend their temporary employment in the U.S., in statuses such as H-1B, L-1, E-1, and E-2, among others. This action is vital for temporary workers whose employers continue to need their services for an extended period. Accompanying family members with derivative visas may also extend their statuses to the same expiration date as the principal visa holder.

Officers are not obligated to approve subsequent petitions or applications seeking immigration benefits, such as EOS, strictly because of prior approval (which may have been erroneous). The USCIS decides each matter according to the evidence of record on a case-by-case basis. However, deviation from a previous approval carries essential consequences. As such, any variation requires close consideration of the last approval by USCIS. When adjudicating a subsequent petition or application involving the same parties (for example, petitioner and beneficiary) and the same underlying facts, officers usually defer to a prior determination that the beneficiary or applicant is eligible for the nonimmigrant classification sought, where appropriate.

Non-Immigrant Visas – Change of Status

An individual can also have a COS filed on their behalf if they have already been lawfully granted a visa status in the U.S. if they haven’t violated their stay. This benefit applies to most visa statuses, including H-1B and L-1. However, you will not be able to obtain a COS if you entered the U.S. in the following categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program
  • D visa (for crew members)
  • C visa (in transit through the U.S.)
  • TWOV (transit through the United States without a visa)
  • K visa (fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé)
  • S visa (informant and accompanying family on terrorism or organized crime)

M-1 vocational students also cannot apply to change their status to F-1 academic student or any H status if their training in the U.S. provided the qualifications for the temporary worker position they seek.

J-1 visa holders also cannot apply to change their status under certain conditions:

  • If an applicant was admitted to the U.S. for graduate medical training – unless they receive a special waiver; or if an applicant is an exchange visitor and is required to meet the foreign residence requirement
  • An applicant would first need to receive a waiver to change status, or they would only be able to apply for an “A” visa for diplomatic and other government officials or a “G” visa for representatives to international organizations.

Applying for a COS or an EOS may be complicated, depending on your visa status. We can assist you with the process if you are in the U.S. on a visa and would like to extend or change your status. US-ILC can review your status to determine if you qualify for the EOS or COS, and help you gain the benefit you need to remain temporarily in the U.S. in legal status.

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