A visitor’s visa which could be a B-1 visa or a B-2 and a student visa or often referred to as F-1 visa are non-immigrant visas. Since they fall under the non-immigrant category, you can convert or change your B-1 visa or B-2 visa status to an F-1 visa, M-1 visa or even to a J-1 visa.
In order to do so, you need to file an application to change your non-immigration status. A request has to be submitted to the USCIS for the change of your non-immigrant visa status (I-539). The application for a change in visa status is done by filing the form I-539. Without an approved I-539, you cannot stay in the United States for your education. The form I-539 must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Apply for the I-539 early as possible once you decide to change your status to a student. A filing fee of $ 290 has to be filed for the I-539. Changing to a J-1 visa also requires you to file the form DS-2019 to the DHS office where the application is made.
Do keep in mind that if you commence your education before obtaining an approval of the USCIS, you will be held ineligible for a change in status. Further, if you have applied for an extension of your visitor visa, you will not be granted the extension. You will be held liable for violation of rules and it is quite possible that you will be barred entry into the United States for certain number of years. It is therefore very important that you do not start your classes or enrol in school until you have obtained the required approval from the USCIS.
Pr-requisites for change from B visa to F-1, M-1 or J-1 Visa
- Be a valid holder of a non-immigrant visa
- Have lawfully entered or been admitted to the United States
- Have not commenced or enrolled into an educational institution.
- There should be no violations of the conditions of your current, visitor status. You should have committed any criminal act or offense that would hold you ineligible for stay within the United States.
What if I’m not eligible or if my change of status is rejected?
In the event your request to change your visitor visa to student visa is rejected, you should leave the United States before the expiry date mentioned on your I-94. What next? Your best option next is to apply for a F-1 visa from your home country. To make things easier for you and if your admission has been confirmed in a U.S College or university, explain your situation to them and request them to issue you your I-20. With your I-20, you can then apply for an F-1 visa from your home country. The I-20 form is an important document when it comes to applying for a student visa. Learn more about how to apply for an F-1 visa, the required documentation and many more detailed guides. We have extensively covered this topic.
In addition to the guides we have here, always keep yourself updated with the latest rules and requirements by tracking them on the state government website. We have listed them below