How to Convert B1/B2 Visa to F1 Visa

B1/B2 to F1 Visa Conversion

Are you going through the same dilemma Andy Singh is going through? Although this question has been taken from a forum, change of status of a US visa is a serious thing for which you can’t trust answers offered on a forum.

To begin with, there are many people who visit USA on a B1/B2 visa and get tempted by the highly prestigious universities in the US and stay back in the desire of pursuing their higher studies in the country. Studying in the US requires an F1 visa.

The confusion that arises for many is whether they can obtain the F1 visa during their stay in the US or whether should they return to their home country and apply for the visa from there.

If a person already has a B1/B2 visa, they can get their B1 non-immigrant visitor status changed to student status, under Section 248 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and regulations in 8 CFR 248.1, under certain circumstances. Fortunately, this is not a novel thing. Lots of international students do this every year.

You can leave America and get a visa from the US consulate in your home country and re-enter the US. On the other hand, you could choose to get your visa status changed while you are still in the US. In this article, I will focus on how you can get your non-immigrant status changed to a student status.

Steps to Change Visa Status During Your Stay in America

Here are the steps that you need to follow to change you visa a non-immigrant B1/B2 visa to an F-1 student status.

  1. Apply in SEVP Certified Schools: Finding a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school is the first course of action to enrol for F1 visa in the US. You can use the school search maps available online and search by school name, location, education and visa types.

Once you find the school and programs you are eligible for, the next step is to apply for admission and get accepted for a full-time course of study.

  1. Obtain an Initial I-20: I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status. Once accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, international students are provided with a Form I-20 from their designated school official (DSO), depending on their program of study and purpose of coming to the United States. This will dictate the type of visa you will be eligible for.
  2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee: Once you have been enrolled in an SEVP-certified school, another thing that you’ll need to do is pay your I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee. Click on this link to find a tutorial that provides a step-by-step guide of the required payment process for the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
  3. Gather Proof of Financial Support: Your initial aim of visiting America was business, travel or medical treatment, given you have a B1 non-immigrant status. Now that you have decided to stay back and spend a lot more time in the US, you must have the financial sources to cover your tuition and expenses during your stay.
  4. File a Form I-539: The next step towards your change of status from B1/B2 to F1 would be filing an application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status. Filing for this is mandatory for anyone who has entered the country with a non-immigrant visa but would like to extend their stay in the country.
  5. USCIS Filing Fee for I-539: According to the guidelines put forth by the USCIS, applicants need to pay $370 as fees for the I-539. Moreover, applicants will be required to pay an $85 biometrics services fee for the USCIS to take their fingerprints.

Lastly, you’ll be left with only one task, which is to prepare for the interview for your change of status, which will decide whether your status will be changed or not.

Important Things to Remember

  • The non-immigrant status needs to be maintained while your Form I-539 is pending.
  • You will become ineligible for change of your non-immigrant status from B1 to F1 if you enroll in a course of study before the approval of your Form I-539.

While converting from B1/B2 to F1 visa is possible and many international students make use of it. If you prepare well and have the right intentions, it should be easy if not difficult.

All the best!

About the author

Mani Karthik

Having lived in the USA, India & Middle East for over a decade, and having worked for big MNC's to startups, I have a lot to share with you. My aim is to help people, by sharing everything I've learned in life through this blog. Come join my pursuit of happiness! WhatsApp me at +001-408-489-4785

3 Comments

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  • Hey Hi Karthik,
    I am so glad to see your page which really helps. I have a situation and need your assistance for that. One of my friend pursued his masters in USA and he went back to India because his college terminated his Sevis because he did not update the employer information on time.He went back to India in 2016 after his Masters.
    He is coming back as B1 for a ministry trip for a month in October he is interested to pursue Masters in Theology now . Can he chnage from B1 to f1? Will it be possible?
    Can you please help .
    Thanks.

  • Hello Karthik,

    Appreciate you doing this, My brohter currenty hold a B2 visa. I got them those for my graduation ceremony in 2016. But now, he wants to pursue his masters in the United States. I am a tensed about that. does he need to fly here and do this process physically? Do you prefer an immigration attorney’s thoughts on this?

Having lived in USA, India and UAE, worked for companies big and small, I share everything that I’ve learnt in life, on this blog. From spirituality to personal finance and everything in between. Come join me in my pursuit to happiness! > Here’s my journey so far!

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