IMMIGRATION: Change of Status from B-1/B-2 to F-1
It comes up rather often that a client who already has a B-1 or B-2 visa decides to enroll to study in the US. So, the first question we get is “Can I stay and study on my B-1/B-2 visa?” The answer is “No.” That would be a status violation. If you would like to stay in the US as a student, you will need an F-1 (or M-1) visa.
Eligibility for Filing Change of Status
Understand that qualifying for a change of status is different from qualifying for the student visa itself. USCIS officers must first determine eligibility for a change of status, which has a standard separate from whether or not a person qualifies for issuance of an I-20 and F-1 status itself.
A prospective student is generally eligible for issuance of an I-20, but if he/she is not eligible for a change of status, the process stops right there. The student will NOT BE APPROVED.
Here are some general points to keep in mind:
- B2 visitor visa holders have a designated amount of time that they are authorized to be in the country which is marked on their I-94 card. Generally B visa holders are given a stay of either 3 or 6 months.
- They have to file prior to the date stamped & cannot be past that date upon arrival to the service center.
- They also cannot have longer than a 30 day gap between statuses.
- (e.g. if Antonio came in on 5/01/2006 to change of status to F1 he would be ineligible for change of status b/c the next semester is longer than 3
- 0 days past his B-2 stay allowance.)
- Change of status for B2 to F1 are difficult and there is a high incidence of denial.
IF YOU DO NOT MEET THESE ELIGIBIITY CRITERIA THEN YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO RETURN TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY TO APPLY FOR YOUR F-1 THROUGH THE U.S. EMBASSY/CONSULATE.
To change from a nonimmigrant visa to F-1 student status you must first be accepted for a full-course of study. After that, the process is essentially as follows:
(1) Pay Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 Fee: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires the collection of a one-time fee of $200 from new F-1 and students.
The SEVIS fee must be paid and fully processed before filing the I-539 Change of Status Application and a copy of the payment receipt must be sent in with the application.
(2) Fee of $290: check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security; write your admission number (the number on your I-94 and I-20), name (if not already printed on your check), and the type of application you are requesting on the face of the check or money order.
(3) A letter from you, requesting the change of status and explaining why you did not enter the US on an F-1 visa.
(4) Completed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. The International Student Counselor can help you with the items that you do not
(5) Your Form I-20
(6) Financial documentation- bank statements, affidavit of support (Form I-134) if the money is coming from someone other than you.
(7) Make sure to bring your passport, current non-immigrant Visa, and I-94 card- to send with application