Back to Top skip to main content
GandS U.S. Immigration Logo
Jul 23, 2021

Applicants for Change of Status to F-1 Student No Longer Need "Bridge" Applications to Prevent Gap in Status

Emily M. Cohen

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on July 20, 2021 a new policy regarding Change of Status (COS) to the Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) visa classification. The new policy eliminates the need to document maintenance of nonimmigrant visa status up until the approval date of the COS to F-1 student visa status. Maintenance of another nonimmigrant visa status acted as a “bridge” to fill the gap to keep the applicant in status for the duration of time that it took for USCIS to adjudicate the Form I-539 COS to F-1. Since it has been taking more than one year to adjudicate the COS I-539, applicants have been forced to file multiple I-539 forms requesting B-2 status extensions in six month increments to fill the gap in status. In order for the change of status to F-1 be granted, the applicant had to not only document there was no break in immigration status, but also needed to provide a school’s I-20  documenting a program start date no later than 30 days from the expiration of their  status. This resulted in not only the need to file multiple I-539 applications, but the need for schools to defer program start dates often more than once.

Under the new policy, an applicant must still be in valid nonimmigrant status at the time the I-539 application for COS is filed with USCIS. USCIS will grant F-1 status effective the date the application is approved which may be earlier than 30 days before the program start date. If approved more than 30 days prior to the program start date, the applicant must ensure USCIS that they will not violate their status during that time.

This is a welcome change in policy, as applicants wanting to file a COS to F-1 will no longer have the expense of filing multiple applications in order to “bridge” the gap. This will also be beneficial to USCIS cutting down on the number of I-539 forms that have to be adjudicated and often requiring the issuance of a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking for evidence of maintenance of status during the pendency of their application or an I-20 with a deferred start date.

Please do not hesitate to contact us via phone or email with any questions!

Related Team

E Cohen Team Page

Emily M. Cohen



email Emily

Philadelphia (Walnut Street)

Full Biography

Emily M. Cohen

Related Services:

Recent Blogs

Jan 21, 2022

DHS Adds 22 Fields to STEM Designated Degree Programs List for F-1 Students Seeking a 24-Month Extension of Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

A Federal Register notice published January 21, 2022 announced that DHS "is amending the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List by adding 22 qualifying fields of study and a corresponding Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for each." This list is used to determine which degrees obtained by F-1 students following the completion of a program of study qualifies as a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree for the F-1 student to be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM extension of their Optional Practical Training (OPT). Learn more in this blog.

Jan 18, 2022

The Department of State (DOS) Has Submitted a New Proposal to Raise Consular Service Fees

On December 29, 2021, the DOS issued a proposal raising the Consular Service fees for Nonimmigrant (NIV) and Special Visas. Comments on the proposed rule are due February 28, 2022. Learn more in this blog.

Dec 22, 2021

2022 to Bring New Changes to Mail-In Renewals in Australia

As our Australian clients are acutely aware, between limited, expensive, and frequently-cancelled-flights to the financial and psychological toll of a mandatory 2-week-quarantine on their own dime (which has been shortened as of late), to even requiring permission to leave the country again, returning Down Under over the past 21 months has been tough to say the least. However, once landed and released back into the world, Australian Citizens have usually benefitted from shorter wait-times for in-person Visa Appointments. Even as slots have vanished over the past few months with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney’s move, Australian Citizens have had the extra option of mailing-in Visa Applications for renewals once they are in the country, so long as they satisfy a list of requirements including but not limited to applying for the same classification of a visa that expired within the defined period of time.