Category Archives: Greenhandshake Blog

Change of Status: From One Non-Immigrant Visa to Another

Visa Application Approved Stamp Showing Entry Admission Authorized

There are two types of visas for foreign nationals who want to travel to the United States.

These are the non-immigrant visa (NIV) or immigrant visa (IV). The immigrant visa allows aliens gains legal permanent resident status upon entry (Green Card). However, every alien on an NIV is subject to requirements and restrictions of their NIV status.  US Immigration Law allows non-immigrant aliens to change their status to another type of non-immigrant visa while in the United States provided they meet the requirements for that particular visa.

This process is known as “change of status” (COS). This is a completely different process compared to a non-immigrant applying for legal permanent status or “adjustment of status” (AOS).

There are over 40 different NIV categories. The following are NOT allowed to change their non-immigrant status:

1- C- Alien in Transit

2- D- Crewman

3- K-1 or K-2- Fiancé(e) or Dependent of Fiancé(e)

4- S- Witness or Informant

5- TWOV- Transit without Visa

6- Visa Waiver Program- WT/WB status


The following non-immigrant categories have certain restrictions for requesting COS:

* J-1- Exchange Visitor. A J-1 subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement cannot change status, with certain exceptions.

* M-1- Vocational Student. M-1 students cannot change status to F-1 or any H qualification if the vocational training helped them qualify for H classification.

Requests for change of status must be filed using forms authorized by USCIS with the required application fee. The procedure depends on the type of non-immigrant status the alien prefers. If they opt for an employment-based visa category, the alien’s prospective employer should file a Form I-129 (Petition for a Non immigrant Worker) before their Form I-94 expires. The Form I-129 functions as application for type of work classification and COS application. 

If the alien wants to change to a non-immigrant category (not a working visa), he/she should file Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status).

All COS applications must be made before the alien’s previous status expired. If an alien’s status expired before filing a COS application with the USCIS, these are considered “out of status” or they are no longer eligible to change their status. The USCIS recommends applications file not later than 60 days before the I-94 expiration.

Aliens applying for a COS will remain in valid non-immigrant status when their I-94 expires if they have applied for a change to non-immigrant status. If their COS application was filed in a timely manner (before expiration of current status), they will be able to stay legally in the US while their COS application is pending but not in their original status.


Change of Status and 30/60 Day Rule

An issue may arise when a NIV holder submits change of status application and the original application was based on fraudulent “pre-conceived intent.”  A person cannot have a preconceived intent to enter the US which is a purpose different from what is stated in the NIV category.  With regards to COS application, the USCIS often applies the Department of State’s 30/60 Day Rule to prevent fraudulent pre-conceived intent. The only NIV exempted from this rule are those allowing dual-intent (H-1, O-1 L-1, P, and K).  You can find details on how the USCIS will treat COS applications below:

1- If an alien files an immigration petition or adjustment of status within 30 days’ entry into the United States, the USCIS will conclude the alien entered with “fraudulent intent” to remain in the US. The non-immigrant visa will be classified as unlawfully obtained.

2- If the alien applies for a change of status or adjustment of status after 30 days but before 60 days from entry, the USCIS may assume that he/she had a “preconceived intent” to enter as non-immigrant. However, the assumption may be rebutted by the applicant with evidence showing change of circumstances.

3- It is not a guarantee if the alien applies for change of status after 60 days of entry into the US, the USCIS may not consider the application negatively.

It is advisable to follow time restrictions for each visa.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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Working While Studying in the US: 5 Employment Opportunities for International Students

opportunities way indicated by concept compass on white background

One of the hardest parts of studying in the US, especially for those from other countries, is often being on a really tight budget. The solution for this quandary is to get a part-time job – and finding one is not really that hard, especially if you are not the pickiest.

However, there are legalities which need to be taken into consideration when one wants to work in the US while studying.

But don’t fret about not coming across this important bit of info earlier because this is it! We’re giving you the five main categories for international students who are thinking of working to earn extra cash.

1 – Employment On-Campus

This type of employment gives international students 20 hours maximum for work every week even while the school is on-going. This is the most common for students for two reasons: first, it is the easiest to obtain and second, one does not need the approval from USCIS.

However, it would be best if the hopeful student gets permission from the office handling them to ascertain all the necessary requirements for doing this.

2 – CPT or Curricular Practical Training

This specific type is necessary for those who need training related to their chosen degree. If you want to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, for instance, it would be wise that you get CPT and then work in a nursing home for the elderly. If you are studying to become a lawyer, acquiring a CPT and then apprenticing in a legal firm could be of great help to you.

Because you are doing this for cash and not just for training, you will need to pass the qualifications set by your employers. Do take note as well that there is no time limit in your CPT work so see to it that you will still be eligible for OPT after studying.

3 – OPT or Optional Practical Training

This is for international students who are allowed to work outside the campus for 20 hours every week while studying and 40 hours every week upon graduation or completion of one’s degree. The job, however, must be related to one’s course. The duration, it must be noted, should only last for a year or 12 months.

Aside from USCIS approval, there are so many requirements to be had and regulations to be followed for eligibility.

4 – Working Under Severe Economic Hardship

This allows students to work outside the campus during school session for a maximum of 20 hours every week. However, the student must have proof that he or she is really having a hard time, financially, to be able to get this type of employment.

Losing assistance-ship, getting medical bills for illnesses or injuries, and having low exchange rate (home currency VS US dollar values), are just some of the reasons international students have to get eligibility for this work.

5 – International Organization Employment

This, perhaps, is the most perfect for students from other countries since it allows one to do practically any job – even if it is not related to one’s degree or course. Interestingly, not a lot of International students are aware of this option. But now that you do, go on and ask about the requirements.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake

Things to Do and Avoid When Studying in the US

Studying in a foreign country – especially in the United States – is an exciting endeavor. But it can be very stressful too. However, you can minimize all the foreseeable problems and the anxiety that comes with it if you prepare for this well. The dos and don’ts for this are listed below so… please, read on!

The Things to Do:

1 – Have copies of all necessary documents.

These include your passport, travel documents and health insurance, just to name a few. Originals should be in your carry-on but do make copies which should be kept in your other bags.

2 – Do your research especially when it comes to transportation.

Getting stranded is bad enough. Getting stranded with a bad jetlag is even worse. Make sure that you have a place to go to as soon as you land and a comfy ride that will bring you there.

3 – Have a medical plan.

This is one of the things which a lot of visitors and tourists often disregard when they are traveling to the US. And this is one of those things which they spend so much on in case of illnesses and injuries. Be prepared for this. Get at least the minimum plans for hospitalization and prescriptions, especially for emergency.

4 – Get Funded

You wouldn’t be allowed in the country unless you have shown the government proof of your funds. But see to it that you are prepared for extra funding just in case some unfortunate circumstance occurs (frozen funds for international students has happened to so many before). Scholarships and student loans can help you with this so, as soon as you land and get comfy, look for those as soon as possible.

5 – Be mobile ready!

International roaming fees will make you destitute in a day. See to it that you have set up the telecom service that you need to use in the US even before you get there. If you haven’t done this yet, take advantage of WiFi connections.


The Things You SHOULDN’T Do:

1 – Packing Light.

Generally, this is a great idea. But do remember: you will be living in another country for quite a while. See to it that you have everything which you need (take note that operative word is need) so that you would not have to tap into your savings anymore.

And please pack smart too. While that pair of neon orange stilettos would look amazing with your party dress, it’s really not perfect for the rest of your laid back and comfy school clothes.

2 – Not doing your research.

We’ve got Google now. Ignorance, in these days, is a sin which could kill you. And we are not exaggerating. See to it that you know everything there is to know about the place you will be living in during your stay in the United States.

3 – Winging it.

If this is utterly inadvisable to tourists who would be staying in the country for a week or two, it would follow that it’s completely imprudent to students who will be staying in the country for six months to a year – even more.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake

Requirements for International Students


When Applying for College in the US

You probably have a school (or a list of top ten schools) that you want to attend in the US so that won’t take you an hour to research about. The difficult part would be applying for those schools. And it is better that you know now how tough this process could really get.

Even if your parents can afford to send you off to the US in a heartbeat, you will still need to gather all those listed below if you want to study in the country. Each college or university will have a specific set of requirements but these are the basic ones which all have in common:

* Application Form

Personal and family information, education history including your testing scores and all your extracurricular activities will be asked for in those forms you must fill. See to it that you make yourself look as appealing to the school. But you also have to ensure that everything noted there is accurate.

* School Transcripts

These official documents will show your educational history, especially your grades. Take note that your country and the US may have different credit systems. In fact, this is often the case. So it’s best that you ask your school to convert the necessary information based on the credit system of the school which you are applying for.

* The SAT Score (aka ACT Score)

A lot of universities in the US require either or both of these scores as a minimum requirement. If you don’t have this, take the test so that you can submit the scores together with the application form and other necessary documentations.

* Proficiency in English

You’re in the United States so you will need to be competent in the usage (verbal and written) of English. All those coming from countries wherein English is not the primary language will be asked to take the IELTS or TOEFL. Like the SAT and / or ACT, you have to undergo this test beforehand and include the paper proving you passed the test with the rest of the documents.

* An Essay for Admission

The admission essay is one of the requirements that all schools will ask of hopeful applicants, international students or not. The only difference per school is the topic and the length of the essay.

Important Tip Here!!!

Never reuse a single essay when applying in different schools. Even if they are not strict about the topic for you to write about, you have to come up with an original write-up for every single university that you have applied for.

* The Application Fee

All universities and colleges in the US do ask for this since they need it for processing and other clerical work. Again, the only difference is the price although the good news is that most do not ask for more than $100.

Important Tip Here!!!

You don’t want to be spending a thousand bucks by applying in ten or twelve different schools so see to it that you go for maybe three of your most-desired university or college to attend.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake