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

Learn more about Greenhandshake

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

Vietnamese 8X is on American newspaper thanks to this creative model which connects immigrant community – America’s prestige newspaper, Bloomberg once introduced a new utility, useful for immigrants around the world to America, named Greenhandshake. The founder of this model is Son Nguyen – a Vietnamese man

The idea to ​​start a business comes from personal impasse

Son Hoang Nguyen graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics and Computer Engineering from Russian State Technological University and moved to the US to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration specializing in Information Technology Management and International Business, at California Lutheran University in 2009.

After graduation, Son once participated in product development technology with Harvard University and experienced, through a number of industries such as import-export, e-commerce and finance, before starting the business, Greenhandshake.

The idea of ​​founding Greenhandshake – a community network connecting the United States with people immigrating overseas to the US, formed when he decided to stay in America to work as he faced numerous barriers in paperwork as well as lack of information.

As a student, sources of information mainly came from friends, but this time, Son realized that everyone was in the same situation with him, and could only try to share pieces of experience they collected by themselves.

“When you have to start integrating with a completely new life, new lands and new language … then even the tiniest things sometimes became difficult. Lack of information is the most dangerous thing. Then I wonder, is there any way to find someone who had walked the same road with you that can share his experiences, procedures, etc., ” Son said.

At that time, the Vietnamese boy immediately thought of a certain paid service for procedure advisory, because in the long term, it would help to save lots of time and money. But he could not see any current services which could meet that need.

Thus, Son rushed to fulfill his dream to build a Vietnamese product to become an effective tool for immigrant communities in the United States from countries all over the world.

In 2014, Son invested $50,000 to build Greenhandshake using the model of sharing business. Unlike traditional advisory channels, this model has played a mediating role in classifying and connecting fellow newcomers in America.

Besides consulting on various topics over the Internet, immigrant communities also have the opportunity to connect directly with each other through real-life jobs such as transportation, tour guide, tutor, etc.  Once in the United States, immigrants need help with even the simple things, such as airport transfers, driver’s licenses, university enrollment procedures, studying advice, etc., to immigration paperwork problems.

Although Greenhandshake has been running for almost one year, it has gathered more than 1,000 members covering all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. Although it was never promoted outside of the US, every month this model received more than 10 requests to help new immigrants and students outside of the US.

The model would be “dead” without the sharing method

As a completely new model, when Son Hoang Nguyen founded Greenhandshake, he had to start from scratch. There were many concerns for Son, such as outsourced algorithms; how to connect immigrants back and manage them in general; how they were to pay; or how to manage participants comfortably and safely as well. There were times when the website was almost complete, but there was still an error in a certain step. Son had to correct all of that from the start.

Another major difficulty was capital. Initially, Son had come to the US company’s IT to seek support, but they required a lot of money for the start-up project up front. IT companies in Vietnam did not want to take a risk with a new project like this either.

Greenhandshake is appreciated because every year in the US there are thousands of new ideas. It was born to serve everyone, but there have been no technology products dedicated to serve the immigrant community, whether those immigrants are Americans and they are sensitive subjects, or if they need help the most.

This network brings to light new ideas that should become infectious to other companies, such as the sharing of help for those that need it. On the other hand, Greenhandshake can also offset the deficiencies of the non-profit models.

Son give an example, “I’d love to put matters such as, someone greets me at the airport and directs the way to rental accommodation is normal, but when it comes to money, both helpers and people in need of help are very cautious in this matter.”

People who help find it embarrassing to suggest payment in cash; they also help with willingness and do not know how much money is enough, and the people who need help suffer the risk of authentication information. They do not know the helpers or how to behave. Therefore, there should be an intermediary standing between to handle this matter.”

Explaining the name Greenhandshake, Son explained: Greenhandshake is made up of two words: “green” and “handshake“.  “Green” symbolizes the color green, which is a symbol of youth and hope and familiar to immigrants in America as the Green Card – a symbol of freedom; and “handshake” as a symbol of cooperation.

“I chose the word handshake. Throughout history, handshake is the culture of both the East and the West as a symbol of cooperation. And I think it fits the criteria of Greenhandshake, which is an appreciated collaboration and sharing. Lacking of money cannot kill this model. But this model will die without helping mindset of the immigrant community, ” Son confirmed.

Talking about the initially successful entrepreneur story in America, Son, said, “Many people say I cannot afford the money or I will give many reason to delay. But I think that it is because they are lack of ambition. If we really love or passion with the work, these barriers can be erased.”

Starting a business is not about chasing that business or project immediately, even when their project is lacking of capital and experience. It is about how you concern and manage to find the most viable solutions for this situation and try your best ways to make it come true .”