USCIS updates F-1 student visa policy to benefit children of H-1B holders



Children of H-1B visa holders in the US are set to benefit as a new policy update from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was announced.

This update will make it easier for children of non-immigrant visa holders in the US to transfer to an F-1 student visa.

The F-1 Visa allows students to enter the United States as full-time student at an accredited college, university, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program.

Students must be enrolled in a program or course of study that ends in getting a degree, diploma, or certificate and the school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

F-1 students are not supposed to work off-campus during the first academic year, but can accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. F-1 students may also be eligible to work off-campus on a case-by-case basis as a result of special situations such as severe economic hardship.

Under the previous policy, the nonimmigrants were required to obtain an F-1 student visa up to 30 days before the program start date.

USCIS said the adjudication of the change of status (COS) to F-1 was difficult to align with the varying program dates, which often required applicants to file for multiple extensions so that they do not have a “gap” in status. The multiple filings and extensions also led to an increased administrative burden as well as costs for both applicants and the government.

“To limit costs USCIS no longer requires the applicant to submit subsequent applications for extension or change of nonimmigrant status while the COS application to F-1 status is pending with USCIS, provided that the applicant’s nonimmigrant status is unexpired at the time of filing the initial COS application and the applicant is otherwise eligible for a COS,” the policy update read.

The USCIS added that 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 the students’ Form I-20.

The move is likely to bring down costs and workloads for the applicants and the USCIS, the report adds.

In case the application for change in status is approved more than 30 days prior to the start of the program date, the applicants have to ensure that they do not violate their F-1 status during that period. Engaging in unauthorized employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days prior to the start of the program would result in a violation of F-1 status.

“USCIS does away with burdensome “gap” status applications when one changes to F-1. This will provide some relief to children of backlogged skilled immigrants who age out, although the optimum solution is to get rid of per-country limits and add more visas,” wrote US immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta on Twitter.