US Revises F-1 Student Visa Policy, Removes ‘gap’ Status

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USCIS new visa policy (Representative image)

USCIS will now grant F-1 status effective from the date of approval, which may be earlier than 30 days before the program start date.

  • News18.com New Delhi
  • Last Updated:July 23, 2021, 09:49 IST
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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) has changed the F-1 student visa policy to remove the “gap” status when one applies for F-1 visa. Applicants are no longer required to submit multiple applications for extension of non-immigrant status. This could also benefit H-1B visa holders to obtain F-1 status for their children.

Earlier, applicants had to obtain an F-1 student visa up to 30 days before the program they applied for started and also had to file multiple extensions so that there is no gap in the status. USCIS will now grant F-1 status effective from the date of approval, which may be earlier than 30 days before the program start date, a circular by USCIS stated.

“USCIS performes 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 ,” US immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta wrote on Twitter.

As per the policy, “To limit costs to applicants and the government, 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.”

If the application for change in status is approved before 30 days or more from the start of the program date, applicants must ensure they perform not violate their F-1 status during the given period. Any unauthorized employment during this time period would result in a violation of the F-1 status.

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