I am currently in the US transferring my visa from F1 to M1 and my status is pending. (My F1 visa is still good until July) I want to go back to Europe for the holidays. Can I travel? Or am I out of status? Could I use my F1 paperwork? Is there any paperwork I could get to not get stuck at the border on my way back?

  • If you have a valid visa I don't see why not
    – blackbird
    Dec 8 '15 at 18:26
  • 2
    @blackbird57 a valid visa can only be used for admission if the traveler qualifies to enter in the associated immigration status. If the traveler has an F1 visa but no longer meets F1 criteria, the traveler won't be admitted.
    – phoog
    Dec 8 '15 at 19:33
  • @phoog right, but the traveller doesn't quite meet M1 criteria either
    – blackbird
    Dec 8 '15 at 20:17
  • @blackbird57 why not, because the change of status hasn't been approved?
    – phoog
    Dec 8 '15 at 20:20
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    @blackbird57 there are two ways to change nonimmigrant status. One of to leave the country and apply for a new visa. The other is to remain in the country and apply to USCIS for change of status. If you leave while the application is pending, as I understand it, you abandon the application, and will have to apply for a visa to return. In any event, the original unexpired visa cannot be used. The fact that the application is still pending doesn't mean one can use the original visa as a backup because nothing else is yet available.
    – phoog
    Dec 8 '15 at 20:34

A US visa is only for entry to the US. You cannot "change your visa" inside the US. You probably applied for Change of Status to change your status from F-1 to M-1.

Status only exists while in the US. When you leave the US, you no longer have status to "change" anymore, and any pending Change of Status applications are therefore abandoned.

In any case, to enter the US, you need a visa. You can only enter on your F-1 visa if you have a valid I-20 for an academic program and are resuming study in that program. If you are no longer studying in that program, you will not be able to enter using an F-1 visa. You will need to get an M-1 visa.

(Even in the case that you can still resume study in your F-1 program, you could enter on the F-1 visa, but then you will have to again apply for Change of Status if you want to still change to the M-1 status in the US, which would be much more expensive and a hassle compared to just getting an M-1 visa.)

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