Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Enroll in School

The following was issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and it applies to B-1/B-2 visitors who want to enroll in school.  We urge visitors who fit this category to read this before filing an F-1 (student) application with the USCIS.

Is it permissible to enroll in school while in B-1/B-2 status?

No, it is not.  The regulations, at 8 CFR 214.2(b)(7), specifically prohibit study in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status.

Before enrolling in classes, individuals who are in B-1 or B-2 status must first acquire F-1 (academic student) or M-1 (vocational student) status.  Enrolling in classes while in B-1/B-2 status will result in a status violation.  Individuals in B-1 or B-2 status, who have violated their nonimmigrant status by enrolling in classes, are not eligible to extend their B status or change to F-1 or M-1 status. These regulations provide no exceptions.

How can I obtain F-1 or M-1 status?

If you currently hold B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to enroll in classes, you may apply for a change of status to F-1 or M-1, as appropriate, if:

  • You have not yet enrolled in classes
  • Your current status has not expired
  • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment

To change your nonimmigrant status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 or M-1, you must file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539), and include the required fee and documents listed in the filing instructions.

Please Note:

  • If you enroll in classes before USCIS approves your Form I-539, you will be ineligible to change your nonimmigrant status from B to F or M.
  • If you are applying to extend your B-1/B-2 stay and you have already enrolled in classes, USCIS cannot approve your B-1/B-2 extension because of the status violation.

What if I am not eligible?

If you are not eligible to change your nonimmigrant status to F-1 or M-1, you may apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa at a consular post abroad.  For information about consular processing, please visit the Department of State’s website at www.state.gov/travel.  For information about the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), please visit the SEVP website at:  www.ice.gov/sevis.