F-1 visa is a great visa for students who want to come to the U.S. and attend university, college, high school, elementary school, or other academic institutions.
There are 2 main ways to can come to the U.S. and attend university, college, high school, elementary school, or other academic institutions. You can:
- Apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, or
- If you are already in the U.S. on some other non-immigrant visa, change your non-immigrant status in the U.S. to F-1 status. (Please note that your change of status application must be received by USCIS before your current visa status expires).
Please see our blog post discussing the differences between a visa and a status in the U.S. when you clickhere.
I want to change my status from B-1/B-2 to F-1
If you are currently in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa, you can change status to an F-1, but you cannot begin your course of study until after your change of status application is actually approved by USCIS. Please note that if you engage in a course of study prior to your change of status application being approved, you will be violating your non-immigrant visa status. It can currently take USCIS several months to approve the change of status application and therefore we generally advise our clients to apply for an F-1 visa at a consulate rather than doing a change of status (though in light of unanticipated policy changes resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, this guidance could change). USCIS recommends that if your change of status application was not adjudicated 15 days prior to the start of the program, you should contact your Designated School Official (“DSO”).
Another thing to keep in mind is that your program start date should be no later than 30 days after your B1/B2 status expires. For example, if your B-1/B-2 status expires on July 1 and your program start date is August 20, then you will have to file a “bridge the gap” application to obtain status in the U.S. from July 2 until July 20. You will have to file a separate change of status petition (the most common scenario is to ask for extension of your B-1/B-2 status). It is extremely important to file this “bridge the gap” petition before your current status expires, since your B-1/B-2 to F-1 change of status petition will be denied otherwise.
Please click here to find out more about change of status procedure.
Please click here to find out what are B-1 permitted activities.
Please click here to find out more about B-2 visa.
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