Change of Nonimmigrant Status

Purpose of Change of Status

As a nonimmigrant, you are issued a temporary visa for a specific purpose. This means that you may engage only in activities consistent with your nonimmigrant status (business, study, temporary employment, pleasure).

If you want to change the purpose of your visit or time in the United States, you (or, in some cases, your employer) must apply to change your nonimmigrant status to a category that allows you to engage in your desired activity.

Generally, you may apply to change to a new nonimmigrant status if you lawfully traveled to the United States on a temporary visa and were lawfully admitted, your temporary visa status remains valid, and you have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible to change your status. Not all temporary visa holders are eligible to change their status.

Family Members

If you file Form I-539 to change your status, you should include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your application. You may include your spouse and children on your application if they are in the same nonimmigrant category as you or if they were given derivative nonimmigrant status based on your status.

If your employer files Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for you, then your spouse and child should file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Both applications for change of status—your Form I-129 and the Form I-539 for your spouse and children—should be filed at the same time.

Late Filing

  • If you are late in filing for a change of status, you must prove:
  • Your delay in filing was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
  • The length of the delay was reasonable;
  • You have not done anything else to violate your status such as working without authorization;
  • You intend to remain in the United States temporarily (there are some exceptions to this rule); and
  • You are not in removal proceedings.

Studying in the U.S.

If you were admitted to the United States as the spouse or child of someone in one of the following nonimmigrant categories, you do not need to apply to change your status to study in the United States:

  • A – Diplomatic and other government officials, and their families and employees
  • E – Treaty traders and investors
  • G – Representatives to international organizations and their families and employees
  • H – Temporary workers
  • I – Representative of foreign media and their families
  • J – Exchange visitors and their families
  • L – Intra-company transferees

Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch is highly experienced with Visa Status Changing Cases