Change of Status / Extension of Status

After arrival in the United States, circumstances may change. These circumstances may require that you change or extend your current nonimmigrant status to stay beyond the permitted timeframe. For these situations, you will need to file an application to change or extend your status. Immigration procedure can be extremely complicated, particularly when one seeks to modify current nonimmigrant status. The consequences of a misstep can be devastating — the cancellation of visas; the imposition of bars to entry; the inability to legalize one’s status in the US.

Who can qualify to Change Status?

A person can change current nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant status by submitting an application to the USCIS. The typical situation is when an individual arrives as a tourist or a visitor in B status, and decides after arrival that he or she would like to study or work in the US. Or an individual arrives as a Summer Work Travel program participant, and would like to remain as a visitor or student. To qualify, one must show that he or she qualifies for the new classification; has the finances to support him or herself; and if the classification requires the maintenance of a foreign residence, evidence that the residence has not been abandoned.

Who can qualify to Extend Status?

Extensions of nonimmigrant status are usually granted to individuals already employed by US companies or in extenuating circumstances if the person is a B visitor to the US — when there is a sickness, emergency, or unusual situation. The application for an extension of B status must include evidence of 1) the applicant’s intent to return home after the extension; 2) compliance with the terms of the current status; and 3) financial ability to support self while in the United States. A company’s petition for an extension of employment (e.g., H-1B, L-1A) should be accompanied by proof of past compliance with the terms and conditions of the status (e.g., payment of salary, working in the petitioned-for position) and evidence that the employee will continue to work in the position.

What are some of the problems associated with these applications?

Individuals who had a preconceived intent to change or extend once they arrived in the US may have their applications denied. Individuals who lied or concealed the true nature of their intentions at the time of applying for their visas may have their applications denied and their visas revoked. Those who extend or change their status may have a difficult time the next time they apply for a visa at a US consulate abroad. Even the parents or relatives of those who extend or change status in the US may have a difficult time obtaining visas in the future to visit the US.

How does White and Associates assist?

We have been dealing with the intricacies of changing and extending status for more than 20 years. Because the applications are adjudicated on a discretionary basis, it is imperative to thoroughly substantiate the applications. Unfortunately, we have seen the consequences of individuals who have been subjected to incompetent advice of other lawyers and consultants in this regard — families permanently separated, individuals unable to return to the US. We assist in devising a strategy, preparing applications, drafting affidavits, documenting changed circumstances, and evidencing ties to the home country. We provide assistance to those who did not file a timely application.

Please contact us to find out how we can help you.