If you are presently in the United States, you neither need a visa nor obtaining one is an option. That is because, in practical terms, a visa is simply an authorized U.S. entry document. A visa is issued only by an overseas U.S. embassy or consulate, simply to allow people to travel to the U.S., present it at the border or port of entry and be admitted into the country.
But very few people understand the narrow meaning of the word “visa.” So it is possible that there is a more wide-ranging question being asked in pondering whether a person can get a visa in the U.S., as to whether it is possible to go from having one type of visa status to getting a renewal or extension of an existing immigration status or to change status to another visa type, or even adjust status to a lawful permanent resident (a green card holder) without leaving the U.S.
A relevant question is whether someone can go from having no status in the U.S.to obtaining a certain legal right to living in the U.S. temporarily or permanently.
Extending Immigration Status in the U.S.
Renewing or extending immigration status heavily relies on the visa type the beneficiary first received when he or she entered the U.S. For example, B-2 Tourist visa holders will be allowed to request an extension with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An extension can be denied if the USCIS officer handling the application suspects that the applicant is seeking an extension to live in the U.S. long-term.
Several nonimmigrant visas can be renewed or granted an extension by USCIS at least once. Ask your nearest immigration lawyer for advice to see whether you are eligible for a renewal or visa extension of your immigration status. On the other hand, F-1 student visa holders may not have to worry about renewals or extensions, unless they graduate or finish a course of study and plan to start a new school program or need more time than was allotted on their original I-20 from the school. That is because students are admitted for the duration of status (D/S), which means for the amount of time needed to complete their studies. It is always good to check the terms and conditions of the visa being granted and if you are not quite sure talk to an attorney for details. Note that whether it is a renewal or extension of a visa you are seeking you will need to apply before the expiration date.
Seeking a Change of Immigration Status
Whether you can change from your current immigration status to another one while in the U.S. depends on the visa category you originally obtained. Case in point, hundreds if not thousands of students successfully switch to employment-based temporary visas. However, certain visa categories do not allow a change of status to an F-1 student. Particularly B-2 Tourist visas do not allow changing status to an F-1 unless a notation was provided in the visa that states the visa holder was entering the U.S. as a potential student. Other visa classifications that do not allow for a change of status are:
- K-1 Fiancée Visa
- C1/D Crew Member Visa
- C - Aliens in transit with without a visa
- J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa
- S Visa
- M-1 Vocational Student Visa
Also, foreigners who entered the U.S. using the Visa Waiver Program (citizens from a country that are not required to obtain a U.S. visa for short visits will not be eligible to change their immigration status). In very rare instances, however, Visa Waiver entrants can actually adjust status to a lawful permanent resident, namely if they are the immediate relative, such as the spouse, parent, or child, of a U.S. citizen and did not use the visa waiver program for the purpose of applying for a U.S. green card.
Do Not Hesitate to Talk to an Immigration Attorney
U.S. immigration can be quite complex to understand and the exact options available when applying to extend or renew depend on the circumstances of your case. An attorney will be able to show you possibilities and help you with the application process. Call Gambacorta Law Office at 847 908 4913 for a consultation.