How to Change from Tourist Visa to Student Status: A Comprehensive Guide

Changing your visa status from a tourist (B-1/B-2) visa to a student (F-1) visa can open the door to numerous educational opportunities in the United States. However, this process involves several steps and requires careful adherence to U.S. immigration laws.

Benefits of Changing to Student Status

  1. Access to Education: Transitioning to student status allows you to enroll in U.S. schools and universities, providing access to world-class education and academic resources.
  2. Work Opportunities: As an F-1 student, you can work on-campus and may be eligible for off-campus employment through programs like Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
  3. Cultural Immersion: Studying in the U.S. offers a unique chance to immerse yourself in American culture, improve your English language skills, and build a global network of friends and professional contacts.

Steps to Change from Tourist Visa to Student Status

  1. Apply to a SEVP-Approved School:
    • Research and apply to schools approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
    • Upon acceptance, the school will issue you a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
  2. Pay the SEVIS Fee:
    • Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee (I-901 fee) and keep the receipt for your records.
  3. Prepare Form I-539:
    • Complete Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This form is used to request a change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1.
    • Gather supporting documents, including your Form I-20, SEVIS fee receipt, proof of financial support, copies of your passport, current visa, and proof of your current status.
  4. Submit Your Application:
    • File Form I-539 and the required supporting documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Be sure to include the filing fee.
    • USCIS may take several months to process your application, so apply as early as possible.
  5. Maintain Your Current Status:
    • While your application is pending, ensure you maintain your current B-1/B-2 status. This means not engaging in unauthorized employment and
  6. Receive USCIS Decision:
    • USC


  • ¬†Apply for the change of status well before your tourist visa expires. Staying in the U.S. beyond your authorized stay can negatively impact your application and future immigration prospects.

Ready to Apply?

Are you considering changing your status from a tourist visa to a student visa? Contact us today to discuss your situation.