What Is A B1/B2 Visa?
B2 visitor visa allows individuals to enter the US and stay for a short, specific amount of time. This is mainly used for tourism, visiting your family and friends, or medical treatment purposes.
B1 business visa allows for individuals to enter the US for a business requirement and stay for a short spurt. This visit is temporary in nature and the visitor/businessman has to return to his home country before the stipulated date stamped on his passport.
What Is An F1 Visa?
F1 student visa is issued to international students intending to come to the United States to study for a specific coursework and then return to their home country on completion. This is a non-immigrant visa.
Is it possible to convert a B1/B2 Visa to F1 Visa?
Under Section 248(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the United States government allows for certain non-immigrant visas to be changed or converted to another type of non-immigrant visa. While the purposes for which each visa type is issued, the US allows for B1/B2 visas to be converted to an F1 visa.
Steps to change the status from B1/B2 Visa to F1 visa
Below we have the process of how you can change a B1/B2 visa to F1 student visa
When you entered the US on a B1/B2 visa, you should have met the following conditions if you want to qualify to transition to F1 student visa –
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States on a non-immigrant visa, a B1 or a B2 visa
- You have not committed any crime that would otherwise make you ineligible
- You are not inadmissible into the US under the law and have no inadmissibility waived
- You have successfully maintained your status, and your visa status hasn’t expired yet
It is upon the B1/B2 visa holder to prove that his intent to come to the US on the B2 visa was purely of a temporary nature and that there was no prior intent to switch to an F1 visa. If the consular officer senses that there was a preconceived intent of study, your visa will be denied.
However, if you have a B1/B2 visa and now choose to pursue a course of study in one of the US universities, then you may apply for a change of visa status from visitor to student.
The following forms and documents are required to apply for a change of visa status from visitor to student. Fill them all, and mail it to USCIS –
- Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Keep in mind that you’re applying for a change and not an extension. So, fill in the answers to the questions accordingly
- Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This is provided by the college you seek admission to.
- Evidence of financial stability – Copies of bank statements, tax returns and any sponsor’s financial status to show that your ability to afford a US education and living expenses
- Proofs showcasing you have significant ties to your home country. This helps ensure that you’ll return once your program is over
- Additional documents showing your original intent to return to your home country when you had a B1 visa. This should reflect your intent before deciding to study in the US
The first thing USCIS does is verify if you had a preconceived intent to study. If this is not proven in your application, then there is a high probability that your request for a change of visa status from B1 to F1 will be denied. If this happens, you may have to return to your home country and make a fresh application for a F1 visa. Of course, it will depend upon the visa processing times in your home country. It is reassuring that US consulates process F1 visas a lot faster than other visas. You will however, have to be able to truthfully explain to them that you had attempted to change your B1 visa to an F1 visa.
But if you are coming in as a tourist, and then decide to stay on to study, keep in mind that your request for a change in visa type will be scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb. Alternatively, it is advisable to return to your home country to apply for a fresh F1 visa and increase your chances of approval.