Strong Ties to U.S. Receives F-1

F-1 CHANGE OF STATUS APPROVED WITHOUT RFE DESPITE VERY STRONG TIES TO THE U.S.

  • Nationality: China
  • Case: F-1 Student Visa
  • Processing Time: 1 Month
  • Challenges:
    1. Strong ties to the United States with strong immigrant intent:
      1. Client was an EB-5 Immigrant Investor
      2. Client was considered old for F-1 student visas
      3. Client has children in the U.S. (one of them a U.S. Citizen)
      4. Client applied for F-1 visa before
      5. Client came to the U.S. on B-2 visa after her F-1 was denied
      6. Client was planning to enroll in English language school
    2. Previous visas denied
    3. Already in the United States and needed to prove the necessity to change status
    4. Convincing USCIS Officer that she clearly wanted to be in the U.S for school rather than committing unlawful presence

OUTCOME

Sometimes, the facts of our clients’ lives do not present well to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) case officers, and sometimes our clients do themselves no favors in that regard either. Ms. Yang was unfortunately both of those types of clients. Ms. Yang came to us wanting a F-1 student visa after coming to the United States on a B-2 tourist visa. This is not all that uncommon. People come to the U.S. to see the sites, like the country, and want to get an education here. This is neither illegal nor immoral. However, Ms. Yang had several aspects to her case that would have given any immigration officer pause. First, several years ago she had been admitted to the EB-5 investor program. The investor program is for immigrants who make big investments in new, American-based companies. After a period of time, so long as the business remains healthy and functional (and meets USCIS standards), those people get green cards. This already showed that she had immigrant intent. Along with that, when she had first come over from China, she had applied for a F-1 student visa but had been denied. She then opted for the B-2 visa, deciding if she couldn’t come for school, then she would come for vacation and, critically, to see her children. She had one son here on a F-1 visa and a second son who was born in the U.S.

All of this could potentially add up to a case officer that Ms. Yang was simply looking for ways to get into and stay in the United States. While she was already on the path for a green card via her EB-5, maybe that process wasn’t going well or was going too slowly for her tastes. Instead, she applied for a F-1, got denied, and then applied for a B-2 after that denial. If Ms. Yang were not careful with her next filing, it would appear like she was simply looking for a reason to stay, not that she actually wanted to get her education here in the United States. Her incredibly strong ties to the U.S., including owning property here, meant that her intent was seriously in question. In immigration, intent is key.

KEYS TO SUCCESS

While Ms. Yang was in our office, we asked her why she wanted to go back to school. Her Chinese employer, it turns out, had opportunities for people who had a very strong grasp of the English language. If she could stay in the U.S. and go to a school to improve her already solid English skills, she could move up in her company and become a valuable asset to her company. It would also help her transition, in the far future, to the U.S., if the EB-5 investment program worked out in her favor. This was a perfectly legitimate reason to want to go to a U.S. school. We felt like it would not be fair if Ms. Yang was held back by her other circumstances, so we got to work preparing her argumentation and her documentation.

We knew, given the poor outlook any case officer might have on her case, that our introductory letter, our forms, and our evidence for Ms. Yang was going to have to be air tight. We focused on the benefits of what a U.S. education would bring to her instead of all the negatives. We argued that her attending school in the U.S. actually gave her stronger ties to China than anything else, as it would allow her to move up in her company, giving her plenty of reason to leave the U.S. when her education was complete.

We also began preparing Ms. Yang for her interview. Most people who wish to obtain F-1 visas have to interview, and we knew that the interviewer would have an array of questions regarding Ms. Yang’s reason for wanting to get a U.S. education and about all her previous immigration attempts, successes, and failures. We put all of our clients that we expect to interview through a thorough interview preparation process, but each, like Ms. Yang, gets a personally tailored process to ensure that they are not surprised on the day of the interview. We tell them what it is going to be like, what may happen during the interview, and we help them prepare for questions that we believe that they will face during the process. All of this is to provide a sense of comfort and ease to our clients, which we know helps them best represent themselves to the case officer that is interviewing them.

We submitted Ms. Yang’s F-1 application once she had chosen a school to enroll in. Once her date arrived, we sent Ms. Yang to the USCIS office to give her interview.

OUTCOME

We were expecting a request for evidence (RFE) to come in relation to Ms. Yang’s case, given her strong U.S. ties and previous immigration history. When cases like this come up, even the most prepared and thorough initial filings can still get hit with a RFE. However, instead of a RFE, Ms. Yang received an Approval Notice. She had been approved for her F-1 visa and was clear to begin her education here in the United States. Ms. Yang was beyond grateful for the dedication and effort we put in to help her succeed in her dream. Not only is she able to further her education, but able to be with her children at the same time.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity

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