Student F Visa Expiring? USCIS announced a policy change!
Typically, student visas are issued for “duration of stay” meaning the time was open-ended (with compliance assumed). If your student F visa expires and you have not applied for an adjustment of status, you are out of compliance. This means you are unlawfully present in the US. It is a big deal now more than ever.
Unlawful presence refers to the time spent in the U.S. after a your immigration period of authorized stay has ended.
Under the revised policy, the day after an event that is considered by USCIS to be a violation of status, unlawful presence time starts running. In the past, unlawful presence time would start
- When the specified visa time expired, or
- When a Judge or USCIS officer determined a status violation occurred.
WHY DO I CARE?
Understanding unlawful presence is important. You could be denied admission to the U.S. for either 3 years or 10 years (depending on the total days of unlawful presence).
STUDENT F VISA EXPIRATION EXAMPLE
A Student with an F1 student visa works more than the 20 hours authorized in August of 2018. In November of 2019, USCIS determines the violation occurred. The student would have to leave the U.S. They would face a 10-year bar from coming back because the student was unlawfully present in the U.S. for over 180 days. Prior to this new policy, if you were determined to have violated status, you could take action and avoid the penalty associated with unlawful presence (because the clock had not started running).
The retroactive nature of the new policy can have a harsh impact on all student F visa individuals including their spouse and children. The Student F Visa holder's family will also accrue unlawful presence.
Everyone on a Student F Visa should understand and comply with all visa status requirements or they may have to deal with the harsh reality of this new policy.
You may need to adjust your immigration status.