Switch Tourist Visa to Student Visa

For Tourists who want to study in the USA


(B-1/B-2 Visitors to F-1 Students)

Can I enroll in school while in B-1/B-2 status?

USCIS does not allow to study at USA schools while on tourist visa. The regulations, at 8 CFR 214.2(b)(7), specifically prohibit study in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status.

Before enrolling in classes, people with USA tourist visa must switch to F-1 student status or M-1 vocational student status.

Enrolling in classes while in B-1/B-2 status will result in violating US immigration regulations.

Tourists who have violated their nonimmigrant status by enrolling in classes, are not eligible to extend their B status or change to F-1 or M-1 status. There are no exceptions.

How can I change my tourist visa to student status while in the USA?

If you currently hold B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to study in the USA, you may apply to change your visa to student status if:

  • You have not yet enrolled in classes
  • Your current status has not expired
  • You did not work in the USA without work permit

Very important information:

  • The Law Office of Natalia Malyshkina advises to mail your petition for student status ahead of time. If you file on your last day on B visa, and you make a mistake in your application, your petition will be returned to you. You will fall out of status before you will get a chance to resubmit your petition. To avoid this stress, we suggest you file your petition at least 45 days before your B status expires. Otherwise talk to an immigration attorney to make sure you are not making mistakes in your application or ask the immigration attorney to file the petition for you.
  • If you enroll in classes before USCIS approves your petition, you will be ineligible to change your nonimmigrant status from tourist to student.
  • If you are applying to extend your B-1 or B-2 stay and you have already enrolled in classes, USCIS will not approve your B-1 or B-2 extension because of the status violation.

What if I am not eligible to change status in the USA?

If you are not eligible to change your nonimmigrant status to F-1 or M-1, you may apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa at a consular post abroad.

We encourage all students and prospective students to talk to an immigration attorney about your plans to make sure this is the best option for you. You should also work closely with your designated school official (DSO) to coordinate the timing of applying for change of status and enrolling in classes.


If you have questions feel free to sign up for a consultation with our immigration attorney.

E-mail us at nm@immigration-business-law.com to set up an appointment.