CHANGE OR EXTEND YOUR NONIMMIGRANT STATUS I-539

If you meet the requirements, you may be eligible to change or extend your immigration status while you are in the U.S.

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Can you change your nonimmigrant status?

It depends on what your original status was! So let’s say you are a nonimmigrant, someone who is not intending to stay permanently in the United States. Now, let’s say that something changes in your life while you’re in the U.S., and now you want to change the reason you want to stay temporarily in the  U.S., or even extend your stay. What happens next? For example, you came in as a tourist and decided that you really want to go to college here in the United States. Never fear, it is likely possible to make this happen! If you want to change the reason for your visit or even your employer (if you have a Nonimmigrant Status that allows you to work already), you must submit a request to USCIS before the expiration date of your original status (your status and expiration date are in the bottom right-hand corner of your I-94). To continue with this example, it is important that you do not enroll in school, before USCIS approves your request to change, because that would look like fraud. At worst, that could lead to deportation and/or a temporary (or permanent) bar on returning.

Are You Eligible? Usually, nonimmigrants who are lawfully admitted into the U.S. are eligible to alter their status so long as you came in lawfully, have not violated the terms of their status, or committed a crime that would affect their eligibility. As long as you submit your forms in a timely and complete way, and your reason for change or extension is valid, then you are likely to be approved! Which form you will use to apply to change your status, will depend on what type of nonimmigrant status you are attempting to change to:

If you are attempting to change to a nonimmigrant status that permits employment your future employer will have to file and I-129 on your behalf:  I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

If you are attempting to change to a nonimmigrant status that is not employment-oriented (such as for a student visa), then you can personally file the form without an employer: I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Can you extend your nonimmigrant status? The honest answer is, it depends! Some visas do not allow for extensions, so obviously in that case the answer would be no. However, if, for example, you came in on a student visa to get a PhD at an American university, and you realize your research is taking a lot longer than you thought it would, an extension is probably a good idea! As with the application to change your nonimmigrant status, the type of nonimmigrant status you wish to change to, will determine which form you will need to use:

If you are attempting to extend a nonimmigrant status that is employment oriented (such as an L-1A or and H-1B), then your employer will have to file the following form on your behalf: I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

If you are attempting to extend a nonimmigrant status that is not employment-oriented (such as a F-1 Student Visa), then generally you can file this extension request yourself, using: I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Restrictions on Changing or Extending your Status. Unfortunately, not all visas allow you to alter your status. You cannot change or extend your status if you came to the U.S. under one of the following categories:

D visa ( Visa Waiver Program Crew member )

C visa (immediate and continuous transit through the U.S.)

TWOV (in transit through the United States without a visa)

WT or WB (Visa Waiver Program — you would have been issued a green I-94W)

K visa (fiancé(e) visa)

S visa (witness or informant in a criminal investigation or prosecution)

Additionally both the M Visa and the J-1 Visa have limitations on changing your status.

As a vocational student with an M Visa, you cannot to change your status to any of the following:

F-1  (academic student)

H Visa (of any kind), i.e. Temporary Worker (for more info click here) if your vocational schooling prepared you or qualified you for the position

You have to be careful changing from a J-1 international exchange visitor, because it has several special rules. As a J-1 international exchange visitor, you CANNOT change your status if:

  • You were allowed into the U.S. for graduate medical training (except if you have a special waiver)
  • You must satisfy the foreign residence requirements as an exchange visitor (unless you have a special waiver)- if you don’t have a waiver, you can apply to alter your status only to that of a diplomatic/government official (A visa) or a representative to an international organization (G visa)

No Form Required, If you came in on a B-1 Visa to do some business and now you want to stay to travel a little, you do not need to change anything as long as you still leave the U.S. by your original expiration date. This might happen if your job ends a couple of weeks before your visa does, and you want to use that opportunity to travel a little. Go ahead!

Becoming a Student in the United States. In order to study in the U.S. as a nonimmigrant, you generally must (with some exceptions discussed below) have a nonimmigrant student visa (usually an F or M visa). These visas allow you to study full-time in the United States. Most students use an F visa, unless they attend vocational training (or another non-academic training), which requires an M visa. To change your nonimmigrant status to have a student status (such as F-1), you have to satisfy the requirements for foreign students:

  • you will have to be an actual prospective student, who has been accepted by an institution recognized by the Attorney General; and,
  • you (or other person(s) or a business can promise on your behalf) have to be able to financially sustain yourself for at least twelve months (usually this would be your parents writing a letter of support and including some financial documents); and,
  • you must intend only to come to the U.S. for a defined period of time to study.  There are a few ways you can prove you intend to leave the U.S. when you are done. For example, you can give your parents’ address if that is where you plan to go after school, or show that you have strong ties to your community back in your home country (example: a promised job).

If you already are in the U.S. on a different nonimmigrant visa, you can generally still become a student! There are even some nonimmigrant visas that do not require you to change your nonimmigrant status (i.e. fill out more paperwork), if you want to become a student.

These visas include:

A visa (foreign officials and their family members)

 E visa (treaty investment, for more information click here)

G visa (representative of international organization like OxFam and their families)

H visa (employment visa, for more information click here)

I visa (foreign press and their family)

J visa (research scholars, professors, and exchange visitors and their families)

L visa (intracompany transferee, for more information click here)

F and M visas (you do have to apply for a change of status when you switch to post-secondary school, i.e. college or university)

If you want to learn more about student visas generally, you should see our student visa page, available here.

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL OF THE 90-DAY RULE:

When you apply for any kind of visa, in applying, you are assuring the U.S. government that the reason you are applying for any specific visa type, is to come to the U.S. to engage in activities that are consistent with the visa’s type and purpose. For example, if you apply for an B-1 business visa, then you are telling the government that your true purpose for coming to the U.S. is business. The 90-day rule is that USCIS will presume that you purposely lied about your intentions if you do something inconsistent with your visa type, within 90 days of coming to the U.S.  In other words, if you do one of the following things within 90 days of entering the U.S., USCIS is going to be suspicious that you lied to them about your intentions. Which may trigger a fraud investigation against you. Activities or behavior that could violate or be inconsistent with your visa include:

  1. Working when your visa does not allow it,
  2. Enrolling in school when your visa does not allow it,
  3. Marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (someone with a green card) when your visa expressly says you plan to leave at the end of your stay. Basically, this would be like you are trying to set up a permanent life in the U.S. when you said you would not), and/or
  4. Undertaking any other activity that requires a change or adjustment of status without actually getting that change or adjustment (or before it is processed).

This does not mean you cannot change your mind! If you come for business and realize that you want to learn a lot more about American business and in fact want to get an MBA, that is totally fine! However, you have to be careful when you apply. If you change your mind too soon after you arrive, USCIS will presume that you came into the U.S. with a different intention than what you told the government. As of Fall 2017, the magic number is 91 days. If you wait for at least 91 days of being in the U.S. on your current status, before changing status to a new one, USCIS will not automatically presume that you originally had a different intention than the original visa you applied for.

So This Leaves the Question, When Should You Apply to Change or Extend Your Status? You can apply up to six months before your I-94 expires, but do not leave it until the last minute! USCIS recommends applying no later than sixty days (or about two months) before your I-94 expires. You are allowed to apply after that two month line, but it is not advisable.

The immigration system can be complicated and your best chance of success is to work with an experienced immigration attorney. Please get in touch with us to help you through the process.

APPLICATION REVIEW

Check your Eligibility, Register, Begin your Forms, Sign & Pay when you’re Ready.

Our innovative online system allows you to figure out exactly which case or immigration benefit you

are likely eligible for, just by answering a few simple questions. After that, our system will allow you to register in our online client portal for free; with the assigned case you’re likely eligible for. You’ll be able to begin working on your case for free, by filling out our easy to understand forms (that become official USCIS forms) automatically, with our software. If you like our system and want to retain us for our Attorney Application Review service, you will be able to sign our representation agreement electronically and make your first payment.

Schedule and have your Initial Consultation with your Attorney

After you have made the minimum payment, you will be prompted to schedule your initial

consultation with your attorney. Your attorney will then contact you on the date and at the time you select. During the Consultation, your attorney will verify that you are indeed eligible for the case our software assigned, and that it is the best option for you. They will then instruct you on how to properly continue to fill out your assigned Immigration Forms, and about any required or recommended supporting documentation for your case type. Your attorney will also seek to address any questions or concerns you may have, about your individual process and petition

Finish completing your Forms, your Attorney Checks your Petition, and you Submit

You will use our innovative software system to continue to fill out the necessary forms for

your case, and any supporting documentation. Then when you have completed everything, your attorney will check your USCIS forms for accuracy, completeness, adherence to USCIS standards and procedures, and any possible ineligibility/inadmissibility grounds that might come up. Your attorney will tell you how best to address any problems with your petition that they observe, and then you will make the necessary and/or recommended changes. If you elected for the add-on service of having your attorney check your supporting documentation, they will also give you feedback on that. Once you have made the proper changes, you will print your petition, sign where indicated, and then send it off to USCIS in the pre-addressed and pre-paid envelope, we provide. From there, you’ll only have to make sure to respond to any ensuing correspondence or requests from USCIS, should there be any.
How our Legal Services Work page

Our online tool makes it so easy to complete your immigration paperwork

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FULL REPRESENTATION

Check your Eligibility, Register, Sign (or Schedule a Consultation First).

Begin by answering one of our online Eligibility Quizzes. If all goes well, our software will tentatively

assign you a case. You will then be able to register, create your profile, and request an individualized price quote for your case–all for free. We will get back to you with an individualized price quote shortly. You can then sign our electronic retainer at the quoted price (subject to certain reservations). Or, if you prefer, you can schedule and pay for a consultation, before signing. If you choose to make us your attorneys by signing right away; you will use our secure online system to make your first payment, and then you will still be prompted to schedule a consultation. To ethically and most effectively serve you, our Full Attorney Representation Service always begins with a consultation.

Have your Initial Consultation with your Attorney and let them get to work.

Your attorney will contact you as scheduled, for your consultation. They will verify your eligibility for

the case our software pre-selected, and make sure it is actually the best option for you. Your attorney will detail the steps for handling your specific immigration matter, and render you any necessary and pertinent legal advice. Addressing your questions, and requesting any documents and information that you’ll need you to provide (such as birth certificates), will also be priorities of the consultation. If you did not already retain Zontlaw formally, your attorney will send you a price quote (with the $150 dollar consultation fee deducted from the cost of your representation); after the consultation. You can then formally sign and retain us as your attorneys. After you make your first payment, your attorney will proceed to the next step. If you have already retained us, you’ll make your first payment if you haven’t already (the one after the $150 minimum), and your attorney will automatically proceed to the next step.

Your Attorney Compiles your Case, you Sign, and your Attorney Submits.

Your attorney prepares all necessary USCIS forms and any supporting materials in their power. If

there is supporting documentation that only you as the client have access to (ex: former employer letters), they will tell you exactly what you need to do and provide you with samples, so you can get the correct documentation. Once everything is ready, your attorney will compile your case into a professional legal petition, with a cover letter and a table of contents that will please USCIS and/or the other immigration authorities. They will check everything again, and send it to you to print and sign, via our secure online system. You will print and sign your completed case, and mail it to us in the envelope we provide. Your attorney will verify that you signed in the correct places, and they will send it off to the correct USCIS Dropbox, processing center, or other authority. It is possible that USCIS or other immigration authorities may request additional documentation/clarification regarding your petition. Your attorney will handle any such requests, communicating with you as required.
How our Legal Services Work page

Our online tool makes it so easy to complete your immigration paperwork

Start my Application

MORE FEATURES

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Where and what

Personalized Guidance and USCIS Fees and Instructions on where to file, free shipping label to USCIS

Up-to-date Forms

Our experienced immigration professionals check the website content daily to keep up with changes in laws or forms required.

Comprehensive forms

Answer a few simple questions and our innovative system will generate a complete form and ready to be presented

Error Checking

Our team of professionals will check all your answers to make sure that they are accurate, complete and ready to be submitted

Evidence Checklist

Once you assemble and upload all required documents, we will check if the evidence is correct and will provide a cover letter.

IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY JULIA GREENBERG

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With more than a decade in the field, Julia Greenberg has earned a reputation as a highly successful immigration attorney. Since 2006, she has represented countless corporate and individual clients in complex matters ranging from removal (deportation) to asylum, family, business and investor’s petitions, and employment-based cases.

Authorized to practice in immigrant courts throughout the United States, Ms. Greenberg may also appear before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Northern, and Eastern districts of New York, and the New York Supreme Court. Ms. Greenberg takes pride in helping clients who have been unable to get satisfactory results elsewhere. Her honesty and compassion, combined with her expertise and vast knowledge of immigration law make her a formidable opponent in court – resulting in a long list of satisfied clients and positive referrals.

Outside of court, Ms. Greenberg often addresses Congress regarding relevant legislation. She also devotes her spare time to making presentations at local events, where she answers questions for New York’s immigrant community.Ms. Greenberg is a member of the New York City Bar Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where she is a member in good standing in its New York Chapter. Ms. Greenberg is also fluent in Russian.

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Zontlaw Julia Greenberg Immigration Attorney IconZontlaw Julia Greenberg Immigration Attorney

1733 Sheepshead Bay Road Suite 22, Brooklyn

5.0 54 reviews

  • Avatar Kate Burtsev ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    All through our immigration process, which took about 5 years, Julia Greenberg demonstrated professionalism, exemplary work ethics and deep knowledge of immigration law. She was always available and provided thought through answers to our … More multiple questions. In my opinion, what really distinguishes Julia from other immigration lawyers we have worked with is that she is willing to go the extra mile for her clients. The fact that the prosecutor in our case complimented Julia for her outstanding effort serves as the best proof of her professionalism.
  • Avatar randa elkhashab ★★★★★ 3 months ago
    This firm is just amazing ! I wouldn’t have picked a better immigration lawyer. Julia is amazing she is very understanding and took care of my husbands and I case very throughly. My case was a bit complicated and she helped us manage it … More . She helped us prepare very well . Julia was also very responsive at all times . I recommend her team in a heart beat to anyone who needs help in immigration matters. Amazing results!
  • Avatar Levan Tsurtsumia ★★★★★ 9 months ago
    I am an athlete whose I-140 was initially denied by the USCIS. I was lucky to find Julia, who in just couple of days was able to correct my case and  gather, review necessary documents and file a timely appeal. In just 3 months after she … More did it, my case was approved. Thanks to Julia I am now designated to be extraordinary in the eyes of USCIS.
    Totally recommend you guys to contact Julia, she is the best Lawyer as good person.
  • Avatar Tatiana Tereknina ★★★★★ 10 months ago
    Julia is fantastic! She is efficient, honest and trustworthy! Our case was lost and after countless attempts to reach USCIS, I finally called Julia. She managed to resolve our issue very fast. I highly recommend Julia and her team!
  • Avatar Leanor G ★★★★★ a year ago
    Julia is a lawyer with a big heart.
    I worked with Julia directly. Calls, correspondence were only with her. I felt strong support. It is very difficult to find a lawyer who are really involved in your case. But Julia is the right lawyer.
    … More With her you are in good hands.
    As Julia says, I will fight to the end.
  • Avatar KKProject Inc ★★★★★ 11 months ago
    It was a pleasure working with Julia! She is a very professional immigration layer and is very responsive, which was very important to us.
    Julia helped us with the citizenship case delay and picked up the marriage case. Both cases were
    … More successfully completed by her, while the previous layer has failed to do.
    Highly recommended!
  • Avatar Julia Gutsul ★★★★★ 9 months ago
    Highly recommended!!!!
    100% professional attorney! She knows her job!
    Amazing lawyer and just a VERY pleasant person☺️
    If you have any questions regarding immigration – just call to Julia Greenberg!
    I am very thankful for her🤩🤩🤩
    I wish
    … More all the best and good luck 🌞

Becoming a US citizen entails specific rights, duties and following benefits: consular protection outside the United States; ability to sponsor relatives living abroad; ability to invest in US. real property without triggering additional taxes; transmitting US citizenship to children; protection from deportation and others. U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain his previous citizenship

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