At American Learning Institute, an English Language School that issues SEVIS I-20 located in Carrollton, Texas, we assist many individuals who has aspiration to be acquires English proficiencies so that they many continue their study.
Recently, a potential student visited ALI and told us that he thought because of President Trump has changed a law that the change of status from a tourist to a student is not possible. Contrary to that Change of Status is adjudicate. Because, of long delays in the adjudication of the COS application, ALI recommends that an applicant should consider returning home country for a visa (a consular process rather than COS).
On or about April 5, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has “published” a notice of its website that was different from previous interpretation and guidance. However, because USCIS did not coordinate with other agencies on this “revision”, Student Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP” is a division of Immigration and Custom Enforcement of Department of Homeland Security) that issues an Student Exchange Visitor Information System form I-20 or SEVIS I-20 did not “published” concurrent or similar notices until May 10, 2017.
In general, [visitor] may apply to change [visitor’s] (your) nonimmigrant status while remaining in the United States if:
- you were lawfully admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant status;
- your nonimmigrant status remains valid;
- you have not violated the conditions of your status; and
- you have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for change of status.
Before USCIS may approve your application, you must take the following steps:
- Apply to and receive acceptance from a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.
- Obtain an initial Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, from the SEVP-certified school. The Designated School Official (DSO) should give change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
- File a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS.
USCIS advises that:
… [B]ecause of processing times, your F-1 or M-1 program start date may be deferred to the following academic term or semester because USCIS did not make a decision on your Form I-539 change of status application before your originally intended F-1 or M-1 program start date. In that instance, you will need to obtain status all the way up to the date which is 30 days before your new program start date. If you had already filed an I-539 to bridge the original gap, you may need to file another I-539 to bridge the new gap.
Since May 10, 2017 publication, ALI has advised potential students that they be aware of this “bridge” filing. If a tourist wants to change his/her status from a tourist to a student, you may need to:
- file Change of Status application, usually form I-539 prior to school start date,
- file “bridge” extension of status application, usually form I-539, prior to school start date,
- DSO to deferred your school start date,
- file “bridge” extension of status application, usually form I-539, before your deferred school start date, and
- DSO to defer your school start date.
Timing of DSO deferment of school start date and filing of “bridge” extension is very critical. The need for “bridge” depends on the adjudication of COS filing. At the time of USCIS adjudication, if your documents are in order, your COS may be approved. ALI is aware of many cases where student has successfully changed their status to F1 ESL students.
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My First Days in the United States
Surely you have heard how difficult it is to emigrate, how difficult it is at the beginning, but also how comforting when things start going well and little by little you find yourself comfortable with your destiny. When you arrive in another country, you must adapt to the new culture, tradition, and people. For sure you feel lost, that feeling of not belonging to something. Student visa process may be complicated but doesn’t have too.
Obviously, you miss your roots, your family, your friends, but for any of the reasons you decided to leave your country, you are here now, trying to start from zero, contribute to this society and acquire new knowledge.
I remember the first days when I arrived in the United States; my plan was to study English. I’ve always had a certain fascination for studying it and talking about it (it’s the universal language); the country where I come from (Venezuela) has been Americanized with TV, products, styles, etc., so I’ve always been influenced by this country. Since I was a teenager, I have not listened to any song that was not in English; I always looked for the lyrics and translated them.
So when I decided to emigrate to the United States, apply for the student visa, specifically in Dallas, Texas, I came with high motivation to learn the language.
How were the first days?
My first days in the U.S. were frightening and exciting at the same time. We come with very high or very low expectations to success. For example, I thought that the process of obtaining my student visa would be faster. There are so many requests that the process can take more than 1 year.
Also, not all the institutes, schools, colleges allow you to change your visa status; they need to have your student visa from your country. At that time, I only had information of one institute (American Learning Institute) that could help you process your permission to study at U.S.A, so I decided to visit them and request information, but now I was wondering, how can I communicate my doubts and everything? Stress come to me!
I felt that I spoke English like a child, I don’t know maybe 2 years old, I saw people around trying to understand what I was saying (even now it still happens) but the good thing is that in that institute they had different people who spoke several languages, so there was someone who spoke Spanish. What a relief, because, let’s be honest, important issues that include legality and money, you need to have the exact information before making a decision.
Now what? Student visa process.
I spent time getting to know the city of Dallas, while I was waiting for the approval of my visa application process, I was going out with my husband and some friends.
One of them already has time living here and invited us to go out with his American friends.
Has not it happened to you that you feel insignificant when you cannot communicate well? I mean, like: What do I do here with these people who do not speak my own language ? At the same time you feel less because you cannot establish a whole conversation without making a mistake. Maybe many people doesn’t care, but I do; I felt that I could embarrass my friends, I am a perfectionist. It is what I felt at that moment and although I knew perfectly well that my friends did not care and that the others were not very understanding. I felt uncomfortable, I still feel it sometimes, but obviously I have improved something when I started studying.
That frustration can definitely motivate or discourage you, but it motivates me more.
Tell me, how was your experience when trying to speak English with another person?
Marianny Perez – ALI student
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