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Converting Your B1/B2 Visa to a Student Visa: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • dimartinolaw
  • March 8, 2024

Converting Your B1/B2 Visa to a Student Visa: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ever visited the U.S. on a B1/B2 visa and found yourself captivated by its academic opportunities? The good news is that you might be able to transition from tourist to scholar by converting your visa to a student visa. However, navigating the intricacies of this process can seem daunting. Fear not, aspiring students! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps involved in converting a B1/B2 visa to a student visa, empowering you to pursue your academic dreams in the Land of Opportunity.

From Tourist to Scholar: Converting Your B1/B2 Visa to a Student Visa in the U.S.

Understanding the Basics:

  • Eligibility: You must be admitted to a SEVP-certified educational institution offering full-time academic programs (e.g., universities, colleges, language schools).
  • Timing: Ideally, apply for your student visa before entering the U.S. on your B1/B2 visa. However, you can also apply for conversion while staying legally within the U.S.
  • Process: You’ll need to file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS and receive an approved Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, from your chosen institution.

Step-by-Step Guide:

Converting Your B1/B2 Visa to a Student Visa: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Secure Admission: Research and apply to SEVP-certified schools that align with your academic goals. Obtain an official acceptance letter.
  2. Obtain Form I-20: Once accepted, contact your school’s designated school official (DSO) for Form I-20. This crucial document verifies your enrollment and eligibility for a student visa.
  3. Prepare your application: Gather all required documents, including your current passport, B1/B2 visa, financial proof supporting your studies, evidence of English language proficiency (if applicable), and completed Form I-539.
  4. File your application: Choose your filing method.
  • Within the U.S.: File electronically through USCIS ELIS or mail your application package to the designated USCIS service center.
  • From Abroad: Apply for a new student visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy after receiving Form I-20.
  1. Pay Fees: Settle the mandatory application fees, including the Form I-539 filing fee and, if applicable, the I-907 premium processing fee for expedited processing.
  2. Attend Biometrics Appointment: Provide fingerprints and a photograph for background checks (which may vary depending on the filing method).
  3. Interview (optional): Be prepared for a potential interview with a USCIS officer to assess your eligibility and intentions.
  4. Await Decision: Track your application status online or through USCIS case status updates. Receive an approval notification and instructions to obtain your student visa (if applying abroad).
  5. Activate Your Visa: If approved, activate your student visa within the validity period at a U.S. port of entry (if applicable).

Important Considerations:

  • Maintain B1/B2 Status: Ensure your B1/B2 visa remains valid throughout the application process. Engaging in unauthorized employment can jeopardize your conversion.
  • Financial Requirements: Demonstrating sufficient financial resources to cover your educational and living expenses throughout your studies is crucial.
  • Maintain Student Status: Once on a student visa, comply with all regulations, enroll in full-time studies, and adhere to travel restrictions to maintain your visa status.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consider consulting an immigration attorney from us for personalized advice and assistance throughout the conversion process.

Remember: This content provides general information and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Always consult with qualified immigration professionals for guidance specific to your circumstances.

With careful planning, meticulous document preparation, and adherence to regulations, if you do all this with the help of an attorney from a firm like the Di Martino Law Group, then surely the transition from a B1/B2 visa to a student visa can be a smooth one. This guide empowers you to navigate the process confidently and embark on your academic adventure in the U.S.!


Q: How long does it take to convert my B1/B2 visa to a student visa?

A: Processing times vary depending on USCIS workloads and individual circumstances. Expect several months for both COS and consular processing options.

Q: Can I work while on a student visa?

A: Yes, but with limitations. On-campus employment is permitted, and certain off-campus opportunities might be available under specific conditions. Research the regulations carefully.

Q: What happens if my initial application is denied?

A: Don’t lose hope. Consult an immigration attorney to understand the reasons for denial and explore potential appeal options.

Q: Can I change my major or transfer schools after getting a student visa?

A: Yes, but you need to inform the designated school official (DSO) and potentially file additional paperwork depending on the change.


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