DHS Eliminates “Bridging the Gap” Requirement for F-1 Student Applicants

DHS Eliminates Bridging the Gap

A nonimmigrant student traveling to the United States of America on an F1 visa had a lot of paperwork and problems to face. With the guidelines provided by the USCIS, every visa holder can reside in the country for a fixed purpose and for a fixed amount of time.

In between all the paperwork and the pandemic stress, there has been a piece of good news for all the F1 visa applicants. On July 22, 2021, the United States citizenship immigration service, or USCIS, made an announcement of a new policy.

USCIS Latest Annoucement:

USCIS recently announced it will no longer require F-1 students to bridge the gap.  Previously USCIS had required students who filed a change of status application to F-1, to also file a second application in order to extend their current status.  Therefore, someone who entered in B-2 and wished to change to F-1 was required to file two applications if the program start date on their I-20 was more than 30 days after the expiration of their B-2.  One application to change their status and another application requesting an extension of their B-2.

Due to the massive delays in processing change of status applications, this also meant an applicant would potentially need to keep filing further extensions of their B-2 to ensure that the start date for the F-1, when approved, was not more than 30 days beyond the expiration of the B-2.  Failure to bridge the gap resulted in a denial of the change of status to F-1.

Fortunately, USCIS has done way with this ridiculous policy and applicants are now only required to file one application, namely the application to change their status. To avoid a gap in status USCIS will now approve the change of status application the day that the I-539 is approved.  If this date is more than 30 days before the program start date students just need to be careful to ensure that they do not violate their F-1 status.

Under this policy, there has been a new manual that makes the ‘change of status’ easy for F1 visa applicants. The biggest and most problematic issue of every F1 visa holder has come to relaxation.

The ‘gap’ in the status of any nonimmigrant status can be prevented. There are many other things that can be helpful in understanding the new policy about bridging the gap. Let us see some of the must-know facts about the new policy.

Change of status

A change of status is the process that every F1 visa student goes through after the expiration of their visa. A nonimmigrant student had to file a petition for the change of status.

This lengthy process takes time for around eight to ten months to get approved. To fill the gap between the F1 visa and the other visa that is filled with the help of Form I-539, the process of change of status is taken into action.

The change of status is not compulsory for all the F1 visa holders but for those who wish to continue residing in the United States for whatsoever reason.

The status of any visa holder could have been changed with a long process involving the legal authorities.

The candidate had to make sure that the ending date of their visa and their changed status commencement date were not more than at a gap of 30days. Filling forms, giving their physical attendance to the legal authorities, and not violating any visa terms can help any candidate get their status changed.

Old policy for bridging the gap

According to the old policy of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a nonimmigrant candidate can change their status to any other nonimmigrant status. Either they can keep their student profile by applying to other states or others.

With the help of Form I-539 i.e. Application to Extend/Change non immigration Status to any other.

There were two problems mainly with this old policy related to the change of status process. First, the nonimmigrant candidate had to file two paperwork for the new status. That could lead to delays in further processing.

The second problem was that the whole process is very time-consuming. Many candidates had to leave the country after the expiration of the visa. Then the whole process takes more time. Around eight to ten months for sure to complete the whole process.

Due to the rising international issues, international students have faced many problems regarding their status in the United States

New policy for bridging the gap

Thanks to the new policy by the authorities, both the issues are solved. The new policy does not require any other form submission by the candidate for changing the status.

A candidate needs to maintain their status as a nonimmigrant under the terms set by the legal authorities of the United States. A student should not violate any F1 visa terms that are clearly mentioned.

Some of the terms are related to unauthorized employment or training.

A nonimmigrant candidate can expect new form I-539 to find the changes.


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Documents required

For the new policy, there are a few sets of documents that are required for the change of status filling form:

  • Recent I-94 copy
  • Passport
  • Copy of approval for status change
  • Copy of SEVIS fee receipt
  • Acceptance proof from SEVP
  • Visa stamped page


The country of United States has the record of highest student travels in the world. Either for working or academic purposes, people have been traveling from all the corners of the world.

With hundreds and thousands of people coming to the country, the legal authority has made some rules and visa norms that can help such an international crowd.

Among a lot of such rules and regulations, recent changes that are announced by them are a relief for the student visa holders. With their everyday ambitions growing to work and reside in the United States, there have been some processes that were very time-consuming.

One of such processes is discussed in this article. The change of status from F1 student visa used to take a long time to process under which the students had to submit paperwork and wait a long time for results.

But now, it has become very easy for students to apply for their change of status with the help of just one form. The documents, however, stay the same for the whole process but the time is reduced for the whole process and that is the best part of this new policy.

Source: Patel Law Group