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  Finance | Financial advice | Immigration | Special Needs | Accounting | Business | Labor Law | Asset Protection

IMMIGRATION

OPPORTUNITY FOR F-1 STUDENT VISA HOLDERS TO CHANGE STATUS


Gail S. Seeram
By GAIL S. SEERAM

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in early April that it would allow F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of selected H-1B petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2009 to request a change of status in lieu of consular notification.

This short-term measure follows an April 8 interim final rule that, among other actions, automatically extends the F-1 status of qualifying students who are the beneficiaries of approved H-1B petitions to cover the gap between the expiration of a student's F-1 status and the H-1B employment start date of Oct. 1.

To obtain the automatic extension, a student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition filed for the next fiscal year (with an Oct. 1 employment start date) and have requested a change of status. For F-1 student beneficiaries of petitions that USCIS subsequently rejects, denies, or revokes, or for those who violate their status, the automatic extension terminates at that time.

Since the rule was published after the filing period had closed for new FY 2009 H-1B petitions, many petitioners of F-1 students did not include a request for a change of status with the H-1B petition. Instead, petitioners requested consular notification based on the assumption that these students would have been required to leave the United States to obtain an H-1B visa at a consular office abroad.

USCIS has determined that it will allow petitioners of F-1 students whose H-1B petitions were randomly selected to receive an H-1B visa number for FY2009 following the closure of the filing period, to now request a change of status on behalf of qualified beneficiaries, if such requests are received within 30 days of the issuance of the receipt notice.

To request a change of status in lieu of consular notification, petitioners (or authorized representatives) should send an e-mail with the request to the USCIS service center where their petition is pending within 30 days of the issuance of the receipt notice. Special email addresses for each service center have been established specifically for this purpose.

These addresses are listed below and are posted on USCIS' website. Petitioners should e-mail their requests for change of status in lieu of consular notification upon receipt of the notice so the agency has the request before completing H-1B petition adjudication.

The requests should include the receipt number and both the petitioner's and beneficiary's name, date of birth, I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) number, and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number. Please do not contact the service center about requesting a change of status until after receiving the receipt notice.

E-mail addresses for requesting change of status are:

Vermont Service Center

- Premium Processing cases: VSCPPCAPGAP.Vscppcapgap@dhs.gov

- Non-Premium cases: VSCNONPPCAPGAP.Vscnonppcapgap@dhs.gov

California Service Center

- Premium Processing cases: CSC.ppcapgap@dhs.gov

- Non-Premium cases: CSC.nonppcapgap@dhs.gov

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization, and extension of status. Call her office toll free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at gail@go2lawyer.com or visit her Web site at www.go2lawyer.com.



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