Each nonimmigrant visa is issued for a specific purpose and allows the visa holder to do things to accomplish that purpose. Sometimes, foreign nationals desire to change the purpose of their visit to the United States, such as a pleasure traveler who decides to attend school.
If you need help applying for a change of nonimmigrant status, contact Hanlon Law Group, P.C., to speak with an experienced immigration attorney today.
Eligibility Requirements to Change Nonimmigrant Status
In order to change the type of nonimmigrant visa, the visa holder must submit an application to change status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To be eligible for the change in status, an applicant must:
- Be legally in the U.S. with a valid visa
- Hold a U.S. visa with a category eligible for change in status (C, D, K-1, K-2, S, TWOV, WT, WB, J-1, M-1 and Q-2 are ineligible)
- Follow all conditions for holding the visa (like not working without authorization)
- Apply for the change of status prior to his or her expiration of status
- Possess a passport that is valid for the duration of his or her stay under the new nonimmigrant status
- Meet the requirements for the new nonimmigrant category
Even if all of these requirements are met, it does not necessarily mean that an applicant’s request to change status will be accepted. Since processing times for applications can be long, the USCIS suggests those wishing to change status apply no later than 60 days prior to their expiration of status date. Applicants can apply for a status change up to six months prior to the expiration date.
Changing from Nonimmigrant to Permanent Resident Status
Those who come to the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas and then decide they would like to remain permanently in the country can face many challenges. In order to obtain a nonimmigrant visa, applicants had to offer evidence of their attachment to their homeland and their intent to return home at the conclusion of their time in the U.S. Nonimmigrant visa holders who misrepresented their purpose for coming to the United States as a temporary one when they actually intended to stay in the country permanently can be deported.
However, the USCIS and the U.S. Department of State both recognize the doctrine of dual intent in which an applicant for a nonimmigrant visa could have intended to return to his or her homeland at the time the visa was granted and then later developed the intent to remain in the United States. Proving dual intent can be difficult. If you are seeking to become a lawful permanent resident and currently hold a nonimmigrant visa, it is best to speak with an immigration attorney prior to applying to stay in the country permanently.
Speak to an Immigration Lawyer
Changing your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category can be a time-consuming process.
Contact Hanlon Law Group, P.C., for more information about changing your nonimmigrant status. Whether you seek approval to work temporarily in the U.S. or want to become a permanent resident, an experienced immigration attorney can explain your options.