Some immigrants can change their nonimmigrant status to F-1 status, if approved by the USCIS. Others can’t. Generally, according to the USCIS, you can apply for a change in nonimmigrant status from one visa classification to another if:

  • You were lawfully admitted to the US.
  • Your current status is still valid
  • You haven’t violated any of the conditions of your status
  • You haven’t committed any crimes that would make you ineligible

There is no requirement to change “your nonimmigrant status if you wish to attend school in the United States, and you are the spouse or child of someone who is lawfully admitted to the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant visa categories;”

  • Diplomatic and other government officials, and employees (A visa category)
  • International trade and investors (E visa)
  • Representatives to international organizations and their employees (G visa)
  • Temporary workers (H visa)
  • Representatives of foreign media (I visa)
  • Exchange visitors (J visa)
  • Intracompany transferees (L visa)
  • Academic (F visa) or vocational (M visa) students (you may attend elementary, middle, or high school only). However, if you want to attend post-secondary school full-time you must apply for a change of status.

Individuals in F-2 status are eligible for part-time study

Anyone who was admitted into the US through one of the following nonimmigrant visas or programs cannot apply to change their nonimmigrant status:

  • Visa Waiver Program
  • Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States (C nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV)
  • Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa)

If you have a vocational student (M-1), you may not apply to change your status to a(n):

  • Academic student (F-1)
  • “Any H status (Temporary worker), if the training you received as a vocational student in the United States provided the qualifications for the temporary worker position you seek.”

If you are an international exchange visitor (J-1), you may not change your nonimmigrant status if:

  • You were admitted to the United States to receive graduate medical training unless you receive a special waiver.
  • You are an exchange visitor and are required to meet the foreign residence requirement unless you receive a waiver.”

“If you do not receive a waiver, you may only apply to change to a diplomatic and other government official (A visa) or representatives to international organizations (G visa)”

If your status is of a type that allows full-time studies in America, you may start classes before your change of status application is approved. Your rights to any type of employment, such as an assistantship, may be denied, however, until after your F-1 status is approved.

The ability to transfer your status is generally governed by federal statute – 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(b)(7). This statute provides, specifically, that if you a B-1 or B-2 status, you are prohibited from entering into a course of study in the United States. You must seek to change your status to F-1 status (academic status) or M-1 (vocational student status).

You can start a school program if you have E status – provided the schooling doesn’t interfere with your E status. E status is a nonimmigrant visa status for treaty traders and investors.

If you start a school program while you have B-1 or B-2 status, you will be considered to be in violation of your nonimmigrant status which means:

  • Your rights to stay in America may not be extended
  • You will lose your right to request a change in status to F-1 or M-1 status.

If you seek a change of status to F-1 from within the US, you will not receive an F-1 travel visa, only F-1 status. If you leave America, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in order to be able to return to the U.S.

Call Herman Legal Group at +1-216-696-6170 or fill out our contact form to talk with us about helping you determine your eligibility to change your status to F-1 or M-1 status.

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