USCIS Issues Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Enroll in School

The B-1 Visa and B-2 Visa are intended for business and tourism travel to the US. At this time of year, many people travel to the United States on a temporary basis in order to take advantage of the warm weather and tourist season in the US. However, some people who travel to the US on a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa may find that they wish to stay and study in the United States. The US is home to some of the finest institutions of learning in the world and during the fall many colleges and universities are accepting new students. Many visitors traveling to the US at this time of year may see the back-to-school excitement and may wish to study in the US.

It is not possible to study in the US or even to enroll in a school on a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa. In order to study in the US, visitors need an F-1 visa for most academic schools, including most colleges and universities. Vocational students need an M-1 Visa to study in the US. It is very important to acquire the correct F-1 visa or M-1 visa before enrolling in a school. Failure to do so is considered a violation of immigration status. If you apply for school or enroll in classes while on a B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa, you will not be able to extend your visa status and you will not be able to change your status to a student visa.

If you have not yet enrolled in classes and you have not violated the terms of if your current B-1 Visa or B-2 visa by taking part in illegal employment or schooling or by overstaying your visa, you may apply for a change of status in order to apply for an F-1 visa or M-1 visa. To do this, file USCIS Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).

If your B-1 Visa or B-2 visa is about to expire or if you are not qualified to change your status from a B-1 Visa or B-2 visa to an F-1 visa or M-1 visa, you will need to leave the US and apply for your F-1 or M-1 visa at a consulate from your home country. You can also apply for a visa for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) from abroad. Once you return to your home country, you can also apply to a US school and apply for an F-1 visa or M-1 visa after you apply to the school. Many US schools will even help you to apply for the appropriate school visa.