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Changing status from B-2 to H-1B


The B-2 tourist visa is a popular visa used to enter the U.S. to visit and tour. Since it is valid for up to six months, individuals on this visa may, during their visit here, develop a desire to stay longer. Two of the more popular reasons to stay longer are to study as an F-1 student or to work as an H-1B specialty occupation worker. 

Such a change of visa is permitted; however, changing visa status can be tricky and careful consideration must be taken to ensure that further problems do not develop.

It is vital that foreign nationals here in the U.S. under the B-2 visa understand that they are expected to be in the U.S. only for a short, temporary visit. 

To obtain a B-2 visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas, the foreign national made statements to the consular officer regarding the recreational purposes of the trip and its temporary duration. At the end of the B-2 duration, they are expected to leave the U.S.  

Problems can arise when the foreign national seeks a change of his visa status immediately after entering the U.S. on a B-2. In such a situation, an application to the INS for a change of status to H-1B may be approved, but the problem can rear its head when the foreign national goes abroad and seeks a new H-1B visa stamp in his passport. 

At that time, a consular officer may examine the previous B-2 visa stamp. He may note that the foreign national now has H-1B status and then assume that foreign national, when applying for the B-2, intended all along that he would change his status. The officer may assume that the foreign national never intended to return home at the end of the B-2 duration. The officer may claim that the foreign national acted fraudulently and then deny the application for an H-1B visa stamp leaving the H-1B foreign national stranded overseas.  

To avoid this, it is important that when a foreign national applies for a B-2 tourist visa, he understands and fully intends to return home at the end of the visa period. The foreign national planning to work or study in the U.S., should not use the B-2 tourist visa as an initial way to enter the U.S. Rather, it is much less risky to obtain the I-20 paperwork from the school or approved H-1B I-797 approval notice and apply for a F-1 or H-1B at the outset, prior to enter the U.S.  By doing this, the foreign national can then be more assured that he will be able to enter and exit the U.S. under these statuses with less difficulty.  

A legitimate change of heart can be accepted by the consular officer. Persons who came in on a B-2 visa and then changed his status can obtain H-1B and F-1 visa stamps when applying for them overseas. However, given the possibility of being charged with fraudulent conduct the foreign national should consult with his attorney before leaving the country.




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