Frequently Asked Questions About Change of Status

By Scott M. Borene*

1. Who can change nonimmigrant status while in the U.S.?

Most nonimmigrants who are currently in the U.S. in valid nonimmigrant status, and who have not violated that status, may apply to change their nonimmigrant status.

2. How does one change his or her nonimmigrant status?

An application or petition must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting a new nonimmigrant status.

3. How long does it take to change one’s nonimmigrant status?

It depends on the type of nonimmigrant status sought and the current processing times for a particular USCIS office. Processing times vary widely, ranging from same-day processing to four months or longer.

4. How many times can someone change his or her nonimmigrant status?

There is no established limit on the number of times an individual can request a change of nonimmigrant status. However, many nonimmigrant classifications have a limit on the number of years that someone can remain in the U.S. in that status. In addition, an individual must satisfy all of the relevant legal and evidentiary requirements for the new nonimmigrant status.

5. If someone changes his or her status, does the status of the person’s spouse and children automatically change too?

No. When an individual applies for a change of nonimmigrant status, he or she must specifically include any spouse or children in the application for change of status, if applicable. In some cases, additional forms and fees are required for each family member.

6. What are the reasons for someone to change nonimmigrant status?

The main reason for changing status is because the purpose or nature of one’s temporary visit to the U.S. has changed. For example, a foreign student who has completed his or her course of studies may decide to change to temporary worker status.

7. When should someone apply for change of nonimmigrant status?

An individual should apply for a change of nonimmigrant status prior to the expiration of his or her current nonimmigrant status. In most cases, a person will be able to change nonimmigrant status without leaving the U.S. However, there are some circumstances under which an individual will need to leave the U.S. and apply for a visa before attempting to re-enter the U.S. again in a different nonimmigrant category. In all cases, a person should apply for a change of status well in advance of the date that the new nonimmigrant status is needed. However, applications to change status which are filed less than 60 days after entry into the U.S. often present special concerns and should usually be reviewed with an immigration lawyer before filing to avoid processing problems. As noted above, case processing times vary widely. In general, a person is not permitted to enjoy the benefits of the new status until after the USCIS has approved the change of status.


*Scott M. Borene is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Borene Law Firm, P. A. The immigration lawyers now with Borene Law Firm have more than 70 years of combined professional experience helping clients with U.S. and global visa and immigration projects. Scott Borene was selected by other lawyers as 2018 Lawyer of the Year in Immigration Law as noted by The Best Lawyers in America and Minnesota Monthly magazine. He has been repeatedly recognized as one of the Top 20 Lawyers in the World “most highly regarded by other lawyers” in corporate immigration law. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and acknowledged as an Immigration Law Super Lawyer. He is often called upon to act as an “expert’s expert” to advise other experienced immigration lawyers on complex immigration matters. Scott Borene is a past Director and a past Member of the Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the world’s largest professional organization of immigration lawyers. In 2002, he was the founder and Conference Chair of AILA’s Global Immigration Summit in New York City, the world’s largest conference of global immigration lawyers. He has written many articles on immigration law and is a frequently invited expert speaker on immigration topics at AILA National Conferences and other major national and international legal conferences. He is the Editor-in-Chief of many leading professional reference books for immigration lawyers including The Global Immigration Guide: A Country-by-Country Survey and The Global Immigration Guide: Crossing Borders for Business, AILA’s most comprehensive books on Global Immigration. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers (2005), AILA’s leading Expert Occupational Handbook on immigration issues in higher education. He is the author of Dr. Yes – Some Practical Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Immigrant Visa Cases of Health Care Professionals. Scott Borene attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a National Merit Scholar. After graduation from Harvard, he attended William Mitchell Law School in Minnesota. Scott Borene has more than 30 years of experience helping employers obtain work visas for key international talent. Scott Borene can be reached at

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