Applicants for F-1 Student Status Change No Longer Need to Submit Subsequent Applications to “Bridge the Gap”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced new policy guidance that eliminates the need for individuals who have applied for a student status change of (COS) to F-1 student to apply to change or extend their nonimmigrant status while their initial F-1 COS application is pending.
Under the previous policy, applicants needed to maintain status up to 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20, Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which required them to file extensions, or an initial COS and subsequent extensions ensuring that they would not have a “gap” in status.
To prevent a “gap” in status, USCIS will grant the change of status to F-1 effective the day we approve an applicant’s Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. If we approve an application more than 30 days before the student’s program start date, the student must ensure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time. An example of a violation would be engaging in employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on their Form I-20.
The new policy will reduce workloads and costs for both the applicants and USCIS. USCIS is in the process of revising the Form I-539 instructions to reflect these changes.