You may have to change your nonimmigrant status if you are already in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa for a purpose other than attending school, such as for tourism, and are interested in studying at a U.S. school.
You have two options:
- Leave the United States and follow the same process that you would if you were applying to come to the United States from your home country to study:
- Remain in the United States and submit an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your nonimmigrant status by following these steps:
- Apply to and receive acceptance from an SEVP-certified school.
- Obtain an initial Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”from the SEVP-certified school. The DSO should give change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
- File a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status,”with USCIS. Not all nonimmigrant classifications may change status. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that your category is eligible.
- If you are changing status from B-1/B-2 to F or M student, refrain from enrolling in or beginning your studies until USCIS has approved your change of status. If USCIS has not adjudicated your change of status at least 15 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, contact the DSO at your new school. You may need to wait to attend (have deferred attendance).
F-1 Student Visa
The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
M-1 Student Visa
The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.
If USCIS denies your application, be prepared to leave the United States when your current status expires.
If you are an F-1 student interested in changing to H-1B status for employment purposes, your prospective employer must sponsor you and file that petition.