Have you entered the United States for one reason, but want to change the reason for your being here or stay longer? A change of status allows you to change your visa category without leaving the country. For example, you may have entered the United States as a student. When you graduate, you may wish to stay in the U.S. a bit longer just to be a tourist. When this occurs, you must file the proper forms to change status.

If you want to remain in the U.S. under the same status for longer than initially approved, you can file an extension of status. An extension of status will let you keep your status for an additional period of time.

However, you must make sure to always maintain some legal status. If your visa expires before your change of status has been approved, you must leave the country. If you do not, you will accrue unlawful presence, which could prevent a future admission.

How do I apply?

You could do one of two options:

Stay in the U.S. and Change Status

You can submit an application to the USCIS and stay in the U.S. to change your status. While this would allow you to change status, you would not get a new visa. When your visa expires, you must talk to the U.S. consulate in your home country to get a new one.


  • You do not have to reapply for a visa (at the time).
  • You can save time and money by staying in the U.S.


  • You have to stay in the U.S. until your application is approved. If you leave, the application is canceled.
  • Processing an application can take up to six months or longer.
  • You cannot take advantage of your new status until the application has gone through.
  • If your application is denied, you will have to leave with the same status.

Leave the Country and Re-apply

You can change your status by going back to your country of origin and speaking with the U.S. consulate about it. If you get approved, you can return to the U.S. with all your new forms and use your new status immediately.


  • If your change is accepted, you get the status & a new visa.
  • The application process is much quicker than in the U.S.


  • Travel is expensive.
  • Your visa may get delayed in processing.

What do I need to apply?

Before changing your status, make sure the following apply.

  • The employer-sponsor applies for temporary labor certification.
  • The employer-sponsor file the I-129 with USCIS.

You do not need anything else to apply. As long as your visa is valid, then you can apply to change your status.

The only reason you may not be able to change or extend your status is if you were admitted as one of the following:

  • A fiancé or a fiancé's dependant
  • Crewman
  • Came to the U.S. without a visa legally
  • You are a nonimmigrant in transit
  • Informant or witness

What forms do I complete?

Fill out the I-539 Form, also known as the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. when you are ready to complete your change. Turn in the form at least 45 days before it expires. This will give USCIS time to process in a prompt manner, allowing you to change status.If you entered the United States as a worker and you want an extension or change of status, you must file an I-539 as well.

Completing form I-539 will need a $370 application fee along with a biometrics fee of $85 for taking the needed fingerprints.

How Can Salmón-Haas Help Me Change or Extend My Status?

The immigration attorneys at Salmón-Haas have a great deal of experience with many immigration cases. If you have questions about filling out your I-539 and what to do, we can answer your questions. Changing or extending your status in the United States does not have to be hard as long as you ask for help. Contact Salmón-Haas now and begin the road towards your status change.

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