Client: Student
Client’s Country of Origin: Armenia
Case Type: I-539; Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

While hundreds of applications and thousands of paperwork are filed to the USCIS, it is foreseeable that mistakes or errors may occur from time to time. However, this oversight does not condone putting petitioners at fault for circumstances beyond their control. Our client, a citizen of Armenia, came to the US on a tourist visa. During her visit, she became interested in pursuing an American education. In order to do so, her first step would be to obtain an F-1 student visa. Generally, an immigrant would need to return to their home country’s embassy and apply for a visa there; however, an immigrant with lawful status within the US may file an I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status if he or she meets the requirements.

In general, it may take months to change to a student visa. During the time that the USCIS is adjudicating the immigrant’s application, he or she cannot go to school in the meantime. If any delays occur, the immigrant’s lawful status is at risk of expiring prior to his or her application’s approval. Subsequently, delays cause further issues with the Service, the immigrant, and the school.

In this case, our client filed her application for a student visa during her B-1 tourist status. The university program she was admitted to record that the original start date for classes was within 30 days of termination of her B-1 status. Due to delays with the Service evaluating her application, without her knowledge, the university deferred the start date by nearly half a year. This caused the Service to deny her application in light of her B-1 status expiration to occur prior to the program’s start date, which deemed our client ineligible to request a change of status.

Our client did not understand why she received denial—she had met all the requirements and produced all necessary documents in order to change to student status and begin her education. Wanting to give up, she approached Attorney Richard Herman seeking advice. First, Attorney Herman assisted in filing a second application. Additional filings are necessary to provide “bridge” status for the immigrant during the USCIS adjudication process, that way our client would not (1) risk expiration of status; and (2) lose her eligibility for a student visa. Second, Attorney Herman filed to reconsider our client’s denial based on USCIS error. The Service had based its denial on grounds that our client had not provided facts or reasoning in order to reconsider her change of status. However, our client attached many exhibits to the original application. Therefore, counsel argued that not only did the Service error in misplacing those documents when issuing a denial but also the Service never requested further evidence from our client in order to fairly consider her application.

Attorney Herman provided substantial evidence to display that our client should not be at fault due to the Service’s untimely adjudication of her original application and based on the fact that proper evidence was supplied at the time of the initial decision. After many hurdles and drawn-out patience, our client was finally issued an approval notice to change to F-1 student status. Soon later, she began her American dream.