Can a B2 Tourist Visa be Changed To An F1 Student Visa?

    Updated on: 12 Sep 2023

    Latest Update: As per the latest update by the US Department of State, students seeking US visas will have to pay $185 instead of $160 from May 30, 2023.

    Yes, a B2 tourist visa can be changed to an F1 visa. The process is fraught with uncertainties but the possibility is still there. To get it done, one must know the terms and conditions that are needed to be furnished. Let’s have a closer look at student visa requirements and discuss how if at all, a B2 visa can be changed to an F1 visa when you are already in the US and considering studying there, even though you came to the US on a tourist B2 visa.

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    What is a B2 visa?

    A B2 visa is a non-immigrant tourist visa, which is granted to a non-U.S resident for entry into the United States. The visa is granted for tourism or for a non-business related visit. It is valid for a period of 10 years for Indian citizens who can make multiple entries inside the U.S. during this period. A B2 visa can include a short period of study. However, this study can not count as credit toward any degree.

    What is an F1 visa?

    An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is granted to those who wish to study in the United States. Students with the F1 visa can study at an American university or college, seminary, high school, conservatory, private elementary school, language training program, or other academic establishments. The F1 visa is valid for 60 days after the student has completed his or her academic program or OPT training.

    Read Also - How to Prepare for a US Student Visa Interview

    How to convert B2 visa to F1 visa?

    Most foreign nationals, who have a B2 visa, assume that they can easily study in the United States by getting their B2 visa converted to an F1 visa. However, there are many technical details involved here and in most cases, there is no guarantee that a B2 Visa will get converted to an F1 visa for sure. Though on paper the law states that it is possible to get a B2 visa converted to F1, through a request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but it requires the prospective student to prove that he or she did not have any “preconceived intent of” studying in the U.S. when he or she entered the country on the B2 visa. Proving this point is extremely difficult and boils down to how well the student is able to convince the USCIS. And if a student has already contacted the academic institute just after their arrival in the U.S, this gets all the more difficult.

    Confused about what “preconceived intent of studying” means? In simple language, it means that the applicant had decided to study in a U.S. institute and used his B2 visa to gain entry into the U.S. The USCIS considers this as preconceived intent to study and rejects any status change requests if it has any reason to believe this. A student who is applying for a status change from B2 to F1 visa will have to document the circumstances that led or motivated them to study in a U.S institute after they entered the country.

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    In case the student successfully convinces the USCIS that they did not have any preconceived intent of study when they entered the country on a B2 visa then we list down the additional steps you need to follow to get your updated visa.

    • You have to fill and then submit the Form I-539 Application through mail to USCIS. This form is to “Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”.
    • Your form should be accompanied by all supporting documents that prove that you are eligible for an F1 visa. These documents include, but are not limited to, Form I-20 (this is issued by the academic institution in the U.S that you are going to attend), Proof of financial support (that will help you cover the cost of education and living expense) and proof that you have considerable ties to your home country and thus will return after your academic program.
    • You should include a detailed letter that states why you want to get your visa status changed and how you arrived at this decision.
    • You can also include any documents or evidence that might adequately address USCIS’s concern about having a preconceived intent to study.

    Well, in case that the student is not sure whether they will be able to convince the USCIS about “preconceived intent of study” then there is a way out for such situations. If the student intends to study in the U.S before coming to the U.S, then they can apply for a B-2 prospective student visa. This visa is issued to students who:

    • Want to study at a U.S institute but are not sure about the institute they want to study at.
    • Have an entrance exam or academic interview scheduled in the U.S.
    • Have a good enough reason to enter the U.S 30 days before their academic program starts.
    Read Also - US Visa Types and Its Importance


    However, if you do not meet the above criteria that can help you get a B2 prospective student visa, then we suggest that you go back to your home country and instead apply for an F1 visa. This way, you do not have to worry about “preconceived intent of study” and you will have the added benefit of faster application processing time as well!

    First published date: 20 Feb 2019


About author

Yogender Panchal
Yogender is a tech enthusiast with specialization in digital marketing. He is currently working at Gyandhan a leading company which provides Education Loan who are studying Abroad. Playing Volleyball, driving a car, traveling, researching new online marketing trends are some of his interest areas that keeps his rejuvenated.

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