Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
You may want to change to a different nonimmigrant status if your goals or intentions change after you enter the United States. For example, you may enter the United States as a B-1 Business Visitor and are offered a position at the U.S. affiliate of your company as an L-1A Manager or Executive. Or you could be an F-1 student, and receive a job offer with a U.S. company after graduation as an H-1B temporary worker. For these situations, you may be eligible to remain in the United States and apply to change your nonimmigrant status.
Generally, you are eligible to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.
You may not apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following visa categories:
The application process for changing your status depends on the nonimmigrant category for which you are applying. For the following categories of nonimmigrants, your employer must file a Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) and any required supporting documentation:
If you are seeking any of the following nonimmigrant categories, you would file a Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and submit any required supporting documents:
If your employer files a Form I-129 (Petition for Alien Worker) for you to change your status (to the E, H, L, O, P, Q, R or TN visa category), then your spouse and child must complete Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and submit any required supporting documents to change to a new nonimmigrant category. It is best to submit both forms at the same time.
If you file a Form I-539 to change your status (to A, B, F, G, , J, M or N visa category), you may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 on your Form I-539 application if you are all in the same nonimmigrant category, or if your spouse or children were given derivative nonimmigrant status. Derivative nonimmigrant status means that your spouse and children were given nonimmigrant visas based on your nonimmigrant status. For instance, your spouse and children may receive the derivative H-4 visa status if you have an H-1B visa, and F-2 status if you have an F-1 student visa.
If you are a J exchange visitor who was admitted to the United States to receive graduate medical training, you may not change to a different nonimmigrant status unless you receive a special waiver. In addition, some J-1 exchange visitors must reside in their home country for at least two years before they are allowed to change status to temporary work or become a permanent resident. If you are an exchange visitor and are required to meet the foreign residence requirement, you must receive a waiver if you wish to change your nonimmigrant status without returning home. If you do not receive a waiver, then you may only apply to change to the A (Diplomatic and other government officials, and their families and employees) or G (Representatives to international organizations and their families and employees) nonimmigrant categories.
If you are a vocational student (with M visa status), you may not apply to change your status to become an academic student (F visa category). You also may not apply to change from the vocational student visa category to a temporary worker visa category (H), if the training you received as a vocational student in the United States made you qualified for the temporary worker position.
You should generally apply as soon as you determine that you need to change to a different nonimmigrant category. To maintain your status, you must apply to change your nonimmigrant category before your current nonimmigrant status expires, and should not start working until your request for work authorization is approved by the USCIS. The date your current status expires can be found in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). The Form I-94 is the small white card stapled into your passport when you legally enter the United States.
If you are late filing for a change of nonimmigrant status and your current status has already expired, you must prove that:
Once you have filed your application to change status and receive your receipt notice, you can check the status of your application through the USCIS Online Case Status website. When you access this site, type in the receipt number (without dashes), found at the top left corner of your receipt notice.
You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted into the United States for business reasons (B-1 visa category), and you wish to remain in the United States for pleasure (B-2 visa category) before your authorized stay expires.
If you are in the United States as the spouse or child of someone in the following nonimmigrant visa categories, you do not need to apply to change your status if you wish to attend school in the United States (as long as your parent or spouse maintains their original nonimmigrant status).
If you are in the United States as the spouse or child of someone in the F (Academic Student) or M (Vocational Student) visa category, you do not need to apply to change your status if you wish to attend elementary, middle, or high school in the United States. If you wish to attend post-secondary school full-time, you must apply for change of status.