Swift Change of Status from L-2 to F-1


  • Nationality: China
  • Case: I-539 Change of Status (L-2 to F-1)
  • Processing Time: 2 months
  • Challenges:
    1. Tight timeline: Client’s Master’s Degree program starts in 4 months.
    2. Her husband’s L-1A visa was about to be revoked, meaning she would not be allowed to stay for school.
    3. Client has a lot of ties to the U.S.
    4. Client is considered old for F-1 student visas.
    5. Client needs to prove that she is a real and genuine student.
    6. Client’s son is in last year of high school.


Ms. Kuo spent nights and weekends studying for her Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). She would always push her son — soon to be a high school senior — to study hard and now it was her turn. The hard work paid off, and she received a top score. She then applied to several MBA programs and got accepted to her first choice. So far, so good.

Her next step was to change her visa status from L-2 to L-1 for students. That’s when she heard the bad news. Her husband, still living in China, had been given notice his visa was about to be revoked. He’d been given an L-1A visa – a nonimmigrant classification that enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of their offices in the U.S. As a spouse, Ms. Kuo was given an L-2 visa for dependents that allowed her to accompany her husband to the United States. As an L-2 visa holder, Ms. Kuo would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for as long as her husband maintained his L-1A status. Although it hadn’t officially happened yet, his L-1 status was not going to be renewed and she could be subject to deportation if she remained in the U.S.

Undaunted, Ms. Kuo submitted her application and moved ahead to change her visa status to F-1. She tried to keep positive but was crestfallen when she received an RFE (Request for Evidence) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ms. Kuo only had 30 days to respond to the RFE, and she was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of documentation the government needed. Then there was the matter of Mr. Kuo losing his L-1 visa. How would the USCIS react when they discovered she was about to lose her current status? Fortunately, Ms. Kuo turned to the immigration law experts at Tsang & Associates for help.


Although the USCIS request seemed daunting, Tsang & Associates has vast experience in quickly and thoroughly crafting a response. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires an applicant for an F-1 student visa establish he or she has a residence in a foreign country which the student has no intention of abandoning, that he or she is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study, and that he or she only seeks to enter the United States temporarily for the purpose of study. Tsang & Associates gave Ms. Kuo a checklist of documents to gather: telephone and utility bills from her foreign residence, her residency permit, a letter from foreign government authorities showing proof of foreign residence, mortgage statements or rental agreements on a foreign residence, and a letter from a foreign bank showing an established relationship.

Next, Ms. Kuo had to show proof she has the financial means to pay for tuition and living expenses for the first year of study. The documentation needed included bank statements, stocks and bonds holdings, and a list of cash assets.

Ms. Kuo needed to submit a Form I-20, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Certificate of Eligibility for nonimmigrant student status at her school of choice. Since she was not in the SEVIS system Ms. Kuo needed to have proof, she’d paid her Form I-901 fee.

Finally, Ms. Kuo needed to prove her husband had maintained his nonimmigrant status to the date of filing the application. This part was tricky. Only a month earlier Mr. Kuo had an in-person interview at the U.S Consulate where he was asked questions about his executive and managerial responsibilities at the U.S. office of his company. After being unable to give satisfactory answers, he was notified by the USCIS of their intention to revoke his visa. Capitalizing on the time gap between notification of the government’s intent to revoke Mr. Kuo’s L-1 visa and the date it would be officially revoked, allowed Ms. Kuo to honestly provide proof she still had a valid L-2 visa.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ms. Kuo penned a sincere letter to USCIS explaining her desire to complete her MBA even after many friends and family told her that her dream was out of reach. For many days, Ms. Kuo worried about a possible rejection and the terrible impact it would have on her life. She and her son would both have to leave the country and he would not be able to graduate from high school with his friends. Worst of all, Ms. Kuo would not get to attend her dream school and earn her MBA.


Two weeks later a notification letter arrived in the mail from the USCIS. Nervously Ms. Kuo ripped it open and tried to focus on the words. She had to read the letter twice to fully comprehend that her visa status change had been approved. She would be able to start college in two weeks and her son would be able to stay in his high school for his senior year. Ms. Kuo was beyond grateful we helped her achieve her dream of getting her MBA here. Tsang & Associates is honored to have played such a vital part in turning around Ms. Kuo’s fortunes and providing a legal path to a brighter future.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity

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