Washington, D.C.- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced
today in the Federal Register that certain academic and exchange foreign students
(F and J Visa holders) seeking to adjust to H-1B status may remain in the United
States legally until their H-1B petitions are decided.
Typically, these foreign students receive either a 60-day or 30-day grace period
to close out affairs and return home at the end of their educational programs.
The transition period usually allows enough time for qualified students to receive
H-1B status. Because the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY 2004 was reached
in February, no new H-1B visas are available until October 1, 2004. Thus, the
grace period will not allow enough time for a qualified foreign student to receive
H-1B status. Without an extension of the applicable grace period, the student
would have to leave the U.S. and return when an H-1B visa became available.
"The extension of the grace period allows affected foreign students to remain
in country and avoid the inconvenience of returning home only to travel back to
the United States in the near future," said Eduardo Aguirre, the Director of U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Foreign students qualify for the extended grace period only if their prospective
employer has timely filed an H-1B petition on the student's behalf before July
30, 2004. The petition must include a requested employment start date of October
1, 2004. A student awaiting approval of an H-1B petition may not work during the
extended grace period or engage in any activities not normally allowed during
the grace period. This extended grace period also applies to the foreign student's
During the extended grace period, DHS Student and Exchange Visitor Information
System (SEVIS) will continue to maintain information about the student, but there
will be no new requirements on schools or student sponsors during this timeframe.
Foreign students are reminded that they have an obligation under DHS regulations
to report each change of address and new address to DHS during their stay in the