Documents Required For Status Change From B2 To F1 [2023]

Lylyane Kim

The transition from a B2 tourist visa to an F1 student visa in the United States requires meticulous planning and adherence to strict immigration regulations since they are distinct visa categories intended for different purposes of travel to the United States.

What Is B2 Visa?

B2 visas are targeted to individuals seeking to visit the US either for tourism, visitation, medical treatment or participation in short recreational courses.

They are usually granted to foreigners who have no intentions of either working, studying or engaging in business activities during their six-month period of stay in the US. Nonetheless, this period can be extended under special conditions provided it is within its original validity period.

What Is F1 Visa?

F1 visas are primarily issued for study purposes within the US and are valid throughout the entire academic period of the enrolled course. However, extensions can be approved in instances of practical training outside the academic year.

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Although F-1 visas restrict on-campus and off-campus employment, it allows for optional practical training (OPT) which involves working in one’s field of study for up-to 12-36 months upon completion of the academic program.

Obtaining a F-1 visa is only possible upon being accepted by an accredited school in the US then being issued with a Form I-20

Similar to the B-2 visa application, the F-1 visa application is also done at any U.S. embassy or consulate of a host country and it constitutes submission of a valid passport, passport-size photographs, academic transcripts and test scores and Form I-20

Other requirements include visa interview appointment letter, proof of financial support to cover tuition and living expenses, visa application fee receipt and SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee payment receipt.

Is It Possible To Change Status From B2 To F1?

Entry into the US on a non-immigrant visa entails doing so with a specific intention that is either leisure, study or work-related whereby somewhere along the line you may opt to change your purpose.

Under US law, there exist two (2) possible ways of changing from B2 to F1 visa which include;

Exit & re-entry: this is a straightforward process which simply entails travelling out of the US, obtaining a F1 visa abroad then re-entering in F1 status.

This option may be faster with less paperwork but may lead to unnecessary travel costs as well as potential visa processing delays.

Status change in US: This option facilitates changing from B2 to F1 visa while still on US soil. This option is usually time consuming and can take between 3-6 months before getting feedback on your application.

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Moreover, this option is subject to certain conditions that must be met in order to increase one’s chances of approval.

Some of the conditions that need to be adhered to when changing status from B2 to F1 include;

  • No prior course enrollment before approval of change of status.
  • Proof of permanent residency in your home country.
  • Proof of legitimate entry into the US on a B2 visa.
  • Proof of financial ability to cater for the study/living expenses in the US.
  • Proof of no deliberate intention of changing status to F1 while obtaining a B2 visa.

Status change applications from B2 to F1 are usually exclusively handled by the US. Citizenship and Immigration Services commonly referred to as USCIS. This legal entity is responsible for the approval/denial of non-immigrant status change requests based on the documents provided to them.

USCIS usually notifies the applicant of the outcome within 3-6 months through the Form I-797 Notice of Action with a  denial letter or approval notice sent to your email address.

Documents Required For Status Change From B2 To F1

  • Duly filled Form I-539 which is the form required to extend/change non-immigration status. The form is available for download as well as it can be filled online.
  • Duly filled Form I-20 which is the primary documentation that acts as proof of enrollment to a learning institution as well as proof of authorization to apply for admission under F1 status in the US
  • Photocopy of your valid passport identification page, visa and I-94
  • Copies of financial documents such as Form I-134 as proof of financial ability to cater for the study/living expenses in the US.
  • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment obtained upon completion of the online fee payment through Form I-1901 .Your SEVIS ID can be obtained from the I-20 form.
  • An explanation letter for your status change request. It should clearly highlight your current status, your study objectives, long-term goals as well as intent to return to your country of origin upon completion of your studies in the US.

Lylyane Kim

Lylyane Kim holds a diploma in travel & tourism management with over 10+ years experience in the field and has worked with both local and international travel agencies. She is always ready to assist on matters related to passport/visa, bookings, travel documents, itineraries etc so feel free to reach out to her on any of her social channels for assistance.

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