If you are planning to study in the United States, one of the first things you need to do is obtain a student visa. But what if you are already in the United States on a tourist visa and decide to pursue further education? Is it possible to change your visa status from a tourist visa to a student visa? The simple answer is yes, but it can be a difficult procedure.
Before we dive into the specifics of changing your visa status, let’s first understand the different types of U.S. visas available. There are two main categories: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.
1. Immigrant Visas
Immigrant visas are for individuals who wish to permanently reside in the United States. These visas are typically granted through family sponsorship, employment opportunities, or refugee/asylum status.
2. Non-Immigrant Visas
Non-immigrant visas are temporary visas that allow individuals to enter the U.S. specifically for a purpose, like business, tourism, or education. The most common non-immigrant visa categories include B-1/B-2 for tourists and F/M for students.
Now that we understand the different types of U.S. visas, let’s address the main question: Can you change your visa status from a tourist visa to a student visa? You must take particular measures and meet specific conditions.
• Check if your current visa allows for a change of status. Not all non-immigrant visas are eligible for a change of status. For example, individuals on C, D, or K visas cannot apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant visa.
• Enroll in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school: To change your visa status to a student visa, you must first enroll in a SEVP-certified school.
• Submit Form I-539: You will need to submit Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
• Provide evidence of financial support. You will need to provide proof that you have enough funds to cover your education and living expenses in the U.S.
• Maintain legal status while waiting for a decision: It’s crucial to maintain your current legal status while waiting for a decision on your change of status application. Otherwise, it may result in denial.
Changing your U.S. visa status from a tourist visa to a student visa is possible, but it requires careful planning and adherence to immigration laws. It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance throughout the process.