Can You Study in USA with B2 Visa?

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Can You Study in USA with B2 Visa?

To study in the USA with a B2 Visa, which is issued for tourism purposes, one needs to change it to an F1 Student Visa, which is issued for study purposes. They can’t simply pursue their higher education in the country after entering the same via B2 Visa and continuing with it. But things can in fact still turn out in their favour with the possibility of changing that B2 Visa to an F1 Student Visa – which is required for international students to study in the USA. So worry not! If you are someone who went to the USA with a B2 Visa but is now planning to stay there for educational purposes, there is a way to convert that B2 Visa to an F1 Student Visa. Read this blog to know about your options and the ways you can follow them!

A B-2 visa is a non-immigrant U.S. visa category that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily for tourism, pleasure, or medical treatment purposes. It’s commonly referred to as a tourist visa. B-2 visa holders are permitted to visit friends and family, explore tourist destinations, participate in recreational activities, and seek medical treatment if needed. The duration of stay can vary but is usually limited to six months. Applicants typically need to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country after their visit, maintain financial resources for their stay, and have a legitimate reason for visiting the United States.

Check the Eligibility Criteria 

To begin with, you need to check the eligibility criteria for going ahead with changing your B2 Visa to an F1 Student Visa. Let’s read below to get to know about the basic requirements for the same, as well as F1 Visa Eligibility, specifically.

Basic Requirements 

The basic requirements look something like the following:

  1. The student, or prospective candidate, needs to be already accepted to a U.S academic institution for study purposes. The program you are enrolled on at the U.S academic institution shall come under full-time study.
  2. The individual shall also make sure that their B2 visa is still valid until it gets converted to an F1 student visa. 
  3. Most importantly, they should meet all the necessary requirements of the F1 visa. 

F1 Visa Eligibility 

Now, let’s look at the F1 Student Visa in detail which shall help you to understand where you stand in terms of visa acceptance. 

  1. You should be accepted at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-a certified school in the United States, and enrolled in of their degree programs. 
  2. As a student, you should pursue your program of study full-time and enrol for the same. 
  3. You must attain English language proficiency, or have proof of meeting English language proficiency requirements; such as IELTS, etc. 
  4. You should also have evidence of financial funds to be able to support your studies 
  5. An F1 student visa is a temporary one so you must indicate your intention of returning to your home country. 

Changing Status From B2 Visitor Visa to F1 Student Visa

Now comes the most essential part of getting to know that after having met all the requirements, how exactly shall one change their status from B2 Visa to F1 Student Visa? Read below to know more. 

Taking Steps with USCIS

One of the first methods and options that are available to you is to apply directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reaching out to them to make changes to your status while your B2 Visa is still active and valid, can be a simple yet straightforward approach. Here, you must make sure that you apply before your B2 visa runs out, so plan accordingly. 

Now, for you to avail of this method through USCIS, you will need to acquire Form I-20 (“Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”) from your SEVP-certified school in the United States. The necessary step that the designated school officer is to take is to mark the Issue Reason as ‘change of status’. You should make sure that is correctly pointed out. 

Next comes I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee, followed by Form I-539 (“Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”) – that you will need to apply to USCIS; and pay the fees for both. 

Finally comes the waiting period where you look forward to a response from USCIS. But still, make sure that through all this time your B2 Visa is still valid.

Consular Processing 

This process is done while being outside the United States. Here, too, you should be accepted into a SEVP-certified school in the United States before you begin changing your status to F1 Student Visa. Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee next. 

Your school where you have accepted should ideally issue you a Form I-120, confirming your F1 visa eligibility. Now all that is left is for you to apply at a U.S embassy or consulate for the visa process as a student. Depending on the steps the embassy shall direct you to take, you will eventually need to pay the application fee and schedule the visa interview.

Once successfully done, you will be granted a visa that shall allow you to visit the USA and pursue higher education there via F1 student visa status. 

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The Right Time to Change B2 Visa to F1 Student Visa 

The right time to change your status from a B2 Visitor visa to an F1 student visa is before your study program starts. This is simply because you cannot enrol or start attending classes at your accepted university before your change of status has been granted/approved. 

Make note of two things here:

  1. First, if your change of status to an F1 student visa is granted sooner than 30 days before your course starts, you should make sure to not violate any F1 guidelines; especially taking any kind of job in the meanwhile. 
  2. Next, if you don’t hear from authorities about the status of your F1 student visa at least 15 days before the school program starts, then you should reach out to the DSO of your academic institution. 


What is B2 Visa? 

B2 visas are usually issued to people for tourism purposes, such as vacation, etc. 

Should I go for B1 Visa or B2 Visa? 

B1 visas are usually for business purposes, so depending on the intent of your visit to the United States, you should make your choice accordingly. 

Is a B2 visa a non-immigrant or immigrant visa? 

A B2 visa is a non-immigrant visa. 

That was all about answering the question ‘Can You Study in the USA with B2 Visa?’. If you have any more questions about study abroad purposes, you can always reach out to Leverage Edu specialists for a counselling session.

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