Non-immigrant visas are issued to foreign citizens who wish to remain in the United States for, depending on the particular non-immigrant visa, a temporary period of time. There are more than 40 non-immigrant visas categories available, each one used for a different and very specific purpose.
If your original reason for coming to the U.S. changes, you may be required to change your original non-immigrant status before you engage in other activities.
If you are in the U.S. you may apply to change your status if :
– you were lawfully admitted into the U.S.;
– you have not committed any act that would make you ineligible to receive an immigration benefit;
– you submit an application for a change of status before the expiration date on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record,. There are limited circumstances under which USCIS will excuse a late filing of such an application.
If you were admitted in any of the following non-immigrant categories, you will not be able to change your status:
– C visa (aliens in transit)
– D visa (crewmen)
– K1 fiancée or K2 Dependent of Fiancée visas
– S visa (witness or informant)
– TWOV (transit without visa)
– WT or WB visas (under the Visa Waiver program, you would have been issued a green form I-94W, non-immigrant visa waiver Arrival-Departure Record)
– J1 Visa (subject to the 2 year foreign residence requirement)
– M1 visa (Vocational Student changing to F1 or H if the M training helped him or her qualify for the H classification)
If you are in any of the above categories, you must depart the United States on or before the date of your I-94 expires.
If your status expired before you filed an application with USCIS to change your status, or if you have violated the terms of your status, such as by working without authorization, then you are out of status and can be placed in removal proceedings.
If you have fallen out of status, the USCIS cannot grant you a change of status and you must depart. In fact, overstaying the period of time for which you were granted admission may also have a negative effect on your ability to get other benefits or to return to the U.S. in the future.
Please consider that a change of status is not automatic, and that the USCIS processing times can vary and it may take up to 6 months before a decision is made.
The USCIS will look at your situation, your current status, the reasons you want to change your status and why you did not applied for this type of visa before entering the U.S.
If the USCIS receive your application before your current non-immigrant status expires, you may remain in the U.S. until the USCIS makes a decision on your application. If, for any reason, the USCIS will not grant you a change of status, you must immediately depart.