Friday, January 26th, 2024 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently provided policy clarifications for F and M student nonimmigrant visa classifications, aiming to offer more transparency and ease for international students, universities, and employers.
For international students on an F-1 visa, the updated guidance brings promising news. One of the significant clarifications is that despite not allowing for immigrant intent F and M students can be beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions. Chad C. Blocker, a partner at Fragomen, emphasizes that F-1 students can pursue a green card application without jeopardizing their F-1 status as long as they maintain a foreign residence. Students must simply demonstrate their intention to depart after a temporary period of stay.
Students can now consider transitioning to an EB-5 visa if they maintain a foreign residency they don't plan to abandon. This development offers a streamlined path for F-1 students to participate in the EB-5 Investor Visa program to obtain a green card.
Bruna Canto, managing director for FirstPathway Partners, says the recently updated policy guidance for international students “now gives immigration officers the discretion to allow non-immigrants—tourists and international students—to enter the United States despite them having a pending immigrant petition.”
While she notes that immigration officers can still deny a person from entering for other reasons, having a pending immigrant petition shouldn’t be cause to deny a non-immigrant to enter the U.S.
“This gives EB-5 investors filing via consular processing more assurance that they will be able to enter the United States with their existing non-immigrant visas while waiting on their I-526E approval,” says Canto.
The recent USCIS policy guidance is a positive development for F-1 students, opening doors for more flexibility, opportunities, and a streamlined path to permanent residency through the EB-5 program. As international students navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration, the EB-5 visa emerges as a valuable option, offering a bridge to the American dream.
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