Change of Status

You enter the United States in nonimmigrant status for a specific purpose like work, travel, or study.  You may later change your purpose of being in the United States and may need to obtain a new status.  Different visa/status categories allow for different activities.  It is best that you consult your immigration advisor as you evaluate your options keeping in mind Kearney International Center advisors are not immigration attorneys.  Should your situation become complicated or challenging, it is always best to seek counsel from an immigration attorney. 

There are two ways of gaining a new nonimmigrant status: 

  1. Leave the U.S., apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate, and reenter the U.S. with the new visa and required documents.  

  • Pros:  
    • Typically faster than changing status from within the U.S. 
    • You will obtain the new visa AND the status 
  • Cons:  
    • Possibility of visa processing delay 
    • Expense of travel 
  1. Change status from within the U.S. filing Form I-539, Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status 

  • Pros: 
    • Ability to stay in the U.S. during processing 
    • Avoid the visa application process 
  • Cons: 
    • Processing can be very slow which may affect your ability to begin a new activity such as full-time study, accepting a graduate assistantship or other on-campus employment 
    • You are not able to exit the U.S. until processing is complete, otherwise you abandon the change of status application 
    • Once approved, the next time you exit the U.S. you must obtain a visa stamp to match your status 
    • The application could be denied which could require you to leave the U.S. quickly 

Make an appointment with your immigration advisor if you wish to discuss a change of status.