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Switching from a B1 or a B2 tourist visa to an F1 student visa requires proving temporary intent, financial solvency, and acceptance into a SEVP-approved school. The steps involve securing an I-20 form, paying the SEVIS fee, and filing Form I-539 with USCIS, all while maintaining valid B1/B2 status. Itโ€™s important to note that holding both visas simultaneously is prohibited, and the your tourism visa becomes void once the your F1 status is approved. This guide provides the essential information and tools needed for a smooth transition to F1 status, helping individuals confidently pursue their educational aspirations in the United States.  

In this article, you will find information about:

Understanding B2 Travel Visa
Transitioning to F1 Status
B2 to F1 Change of Status in 3 Steps
Timing, Process Duration & Cost
Common Reason for Denial & How to Avoid 
B1/B2 to F1 Change of Status FAQ 


Understanding B2 Travel Visa

Given the challenges many Indians face in obtaining F visas, a common strategy is to first secure a B visa (B1 for business, B2 for tourism, commonly known and issued together as B1/B2 visa).

Data reveals that among the largest non-immigrant visa applicant groups, Chinese and Indians, Chinese candidates typically have higher approval rates for F1 visas, whereas Indians are more successful in obtaining B visas. This disparity has influenced many Indians to initially choose a B visa (usually B2 travel visa), which allows them to better understand the U.S. educational system and lifestyle before taking on the rigorous and uncertain F visa application process.

While this method is legally permissible, it's important to remember that each visa category comes with its specific intentions, rights, and restrictions. Understanding and adhering to these is crucial to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws and to fully benefit from the privileges each visa type offers.

Eligibility and Purpose 

To be eligible for a B2 visa, you need to establish that your visit to the U.S. is strictly for non-business-related activities. This can include tourism, holidaying, visiting friends or relatives, attending social events, or seeking medical treatment. Applicants must demonstrate that their visit will be temporary, show intent to return to their home country after the visit, and provide evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover their stay.


When your B2 visa is approved, you are generally allowed an initial stay of up to six months. The precise length of time you are permitted to stay will be decided by the Customs and Border Protection officer at your point of entry. It's important to note that the duration granted is not necessarily the maximum allowed; you must adhere to the specific duration stamped in your passport (I-94 record).

Extension Options

If you need to extend your stay in the U.S., you can apply for a B2 visa extension by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, before your current visa expires. It's important to provide a legitimate reason for the extension and to demonstrate that you maintain a foreign residence and have sufficient financial support. Extensions are generally granted in increments of up to six months.


  • B2 visa holder can look for a job in the US according to USCIS 2023's update but still are not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States
  • B2 visa holder can look for schools in the US but not allowed to study as full-time students

Change to F1 Status

Legal Implication of B1/B2 Change of Status

Obtaining a B-2 visa from outside the U.S. is relatively straightforward, but once inside the U.S., this visa comes with significant restrictions. While on a B-2 visa, your activities are limited primarily to tourism, because each non-immigrant visa type is associated with a specific purpose or "intention." However, intentions can change. It's not uncommon for visitors to discover after arriving in the US that they want to engage more deeply with the country than they initially planned. The USCIS recognizes that changes in intentions can occur. As long as you were honest about your original intentions during your visa interview and at the border upon entry, changing your intentions is not considered visa fraud. This understanding by USCIS allows for the possibility of applying to change your visa status if your plans in the U.S. evolve.

The most frequent change from a B visa is switching from B1/B2 to F1, as the F1 visa offers numerous benefits for non-immigrants in the U.S., including:

The Advantages of an F1 Student Visa

The F1 student visa offers several distinct advantages:

๐Ÿ”ธ Educational and Professional Opportunities:

F1 visa holders are eligible to enroll in full-time studies at accredited academic institutions in the U.S., allowing them to pursue higher education and achieve specific educational or professional objectives. This contrasts with B1/B2 visas, primarily for temporary business or tourism visits.

๐Ÿ”ธ Work Opportunities 

F1 visa holders have access to three types of work permits in the US, allowing them to explore the job market and potentially establish a career in the US:

โœ“ On-campus employment is permissible for F1 students, allowing them to earn money while studying.

โœ“ Optional Practical Training (OPT): F1 students can obtain one year of OPT work authorization after graduation. If they graduated from a STEM program, they are eligible for an additional 24-month extension of OPT. Verify if your program qualifies as STEM and allows for three years of OPT here

โœ“ Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Depending on the program, some allow F1 students to work while they study. Certain programs may even grant CPT authorization from the start, commonly referred to as Day 1 CPT programs. These programs are designed to better prepare F1 international students for the job market while providing them with the opportunities to earn legal income, which can help alleviate the burden of high tuition costs in the U.S. CPT is a valuable benefit for F1 students.

๐Ÿ”ธ Extended Stay and Multiple Entry Flexibility

The duration of an F1 visa generally covers the length of the academic program plus any authorized training period, often allowing for a longer stay than a B1/B2 visa permits. 

๐Ÿ”ธFamily Inclusion

Dependents of F1 visa holders can join them in the U.S. with F2 status, which permits them to remain for the duration of the F1 holder's academic program, thereby fostering family unity during their studies abroad. Additionally, F2 visa holders can enroll in recreational or vocational studies and participate in school-aged education for children, enhancing their U.S. experience and facilitating personal development alongside the F1 visa holder.


Eligibility for Transitioning from B2 to F1

A B visitor may apply to change to F1 student status under the following circumstances:

โœ“ The B visitor has not yet enrolled in classes;
โœ“ B status has not expired; and
โœ“ The B visitor has not engaged in unauthorized employment.

B2 to F1 Change of Status in 3 Steps

When transitioning from a B-2 to an F-1 visa, you need to satisfy certain eligibility criteria, complete a detailed application process, and submit thorough documentation to successfully change your status while within the United States.

Get An Offer from a School
To be eligible for an F-1 visa, you must be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified institution. Additionally, you should show substantial ties to your home country to indicate your intention to return after completing your studies. 
Obtain an I-20

Once an SEVP-certified school has accepted you, request an I-20 form from your Designated School Official (DSO). Keep in mind that not all students are international students; domestic students do not require an I-20, so you will need to specifically request it. After obtaining the I-20 form, you must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.

File I-539 Form & Supporting Documents

Basic Required Documents (Additional documents may vary)

>>Financial Evidence: Demonstrating sufficient funds to cover both tuition and living expenses.
>>Form I-20: Issued by the SEVP-certified institution you will be attending.
>>Passport: Must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in the U.S.
>>Photographs: Must meet U.S. visa application specifications.
>>Academic Records: Showing your qualifications and educational background.
>>Receipt for SEVIS Fee: Must be paid before you submit Form I-539.

B2 to F1 Chang of Status Time & Cost

Intention and Timing

While the intentions of non-immigrants may legally change after entering the U.S., providing a basis for applying for a change of status, the timing of such changes must be reasonable. Applying for a change of status immediately after entering the U.S. can lead USCIS officers to question your original intentions. Similarly, applying for a change of status just as your B2 visa is about to expire may appear as an attempt to unnecessarily prolong your stay, increasing the likelihood of denial. Therefore, the timing of your application is critical for success.

๐Ÿ”ด Not Advised: Entering the U.S. on a B2 visa and applying for a change of status within 30 days, or attempting to apply when only 30 days are left on your B2 visa.

๐ŸŸก Grey Period: Applying for a change of status between 30 and 90 days after entry.

๐ŸŸข Relatively Safe: Applying for a change of status after 90 days of entry, ensuring that more than 30 days remain on your B visa duration.

โญ๏ธ Enrollment Time: You will also need to coordinate the time with your school. If USCIS has not made a decision on your change of status application at least 15 days before your program starts, you need to reach out to your Designated School Official (DSO), since you may need to require a "defer". 

While awaiting a change of status decision, B visitors must keep their B status active. If this status is set to expire more than 30 days before the start date of your academic program, you must apply for an extension using Form I-539 and pay an additional fee, as outlined by USCIS:

The B visitor's status will expire more than 30 days before the initial F1 or M1 program start date. The USCIS may only approve the Form I-539 change of status request if the B visitor is maintaining his or her B1 or B2 status up to 30 days before the F1 or M1 program start date. If a necessary extension request is not filed on time, the USCIS will deny the Form I-539 change of status request. The USCIS advises that B visitors consult the processing times to determine if an extension of status application will be necessary.

The F1 or M1 program start date is deferred to the following academic term or semester because the USCIS did not render a final decision on the change of status application in before the original F1 or M1 program start date. In such event, the B visitor may need to file a second Form I-539 requesting an extension of B1 or B2 status in order to bridge the gap between the expiration of B status and the 30-day period before the F1 program start date.


Application Process Time

๐Ÿ”นRegular processing times currently range from 3 to 8 months.

๐Ÿ”นWith premium processing, you must submit Form I-907 along with your I-539 when applying for a change of status and pay an additional fee of $1,965. This option can reduce the processing time for your change of status to 30 days.


Fees and Cost

- School Application Fee -  $50 - $200 (when applying to CPTDog's partnered School, Application Fee can be waived)
- I -901 SEVIS Fee - $350
- I-539 Filing Fee - $420 (online) / $470 (by mail)
- Premium Processing - $1965 (optional)
- Legal Service Fee - $150 -$400/hour (CPTDog provides legal consultation with a $1500 flat charge)
- Tuition - Varies 


Common Reason for Denial

Questionable Timing and Intent

Recall the critical aspect of timing we highlighted earlier? This factor cannot be overstated, especially in the context of applying for a change of status. Navigating the intricate process of changing your visa status requires a keen understanding of the optimal timing to submit your application. Submitting too early or too late could raise red flags or lead to unnecessary complications. Timing, in this regard, is not just about meeting deadlines; it's about strategically planning your application to align with immigration cycles and avoiding periods of high scrutiny or backlog. This foresight can significantly enhance the credibility of your request and smoothen your transition to a new status.

Unconvincing Explanation Letter 

You'll need to craft a compelling statement letter detailing the reasons behind the shift in your U.S. intentions. This letter must be persuasive and logically structured. In essence, USCIS officers possess the authority to deny your change of status application if they question your motivations, even if they appear genuine. They may require you to leave the U.S., undergo consular processing, secure an F1 visa, and then return for your studies. To navigate these complexities, seeking expert legal counsel is a wise move.


Legal fees for change of status cases typically range from $150 to $300 per hour, with the total process spanning 3 to 8 hours based on case complexity and the necessity of a Request for Evidence (RFE). At CPTDog, we partner with attorneys who have firsthand experience with immigration challenges, offering a more empathetic and informed perspective. Our comprehensive change of status package not only covers legal consultation but also assistance with school applications, school application fee waive, and RFE responses, all for a flat fee of $1500.

Book Free Consultation Now


Inadequate Financial Documentation

Applicants for student visas are required to demonstrate their financial capability to cover the full cost of the first year in their chosen academic program. Authorities will scrutinize your bank statements for any unusual or unfounded deposits. It's not uncommon for students to overlook including documentation for their scholarships. While sometimes these oversights might only cause a temporary delay, there are instances where they could lead to a visa application being rejected.

Your Choice Of Schools

Though officially, the prestige of your chosen institution shouldn't sway your visa application, the reality often tells a different story. Opting for a renowned university might inherently bolster the perception of your application's legitimacy over choosing a lesser-known community college. On the flip side, gaining admission into an elite Ivy League school could silently signal to authorities that you're a dedicated and intelligent student.

You Ask, We Answer

B2 to F1 Change of Status FAQ

What will happen if my change of status from B2 to F1 is denied and my B2 visa is already expired?

If you find yourself facing denial, it's critical to act swiftly. Typically, the notice will grant you a 30-day window to depart. Failing to do so initiates the accumulation of what's termed as 'unlawful presence,' essentially marking your stay as illegal.

The repercussions of overstaying become increasingly severe with each passing day. Being out of status means you're usually unable to rectify your situation without exiting and then re-entering the country. However, be aware, the duration of your overstay could complicate re-entry efforts.

Should I file online or by mail when applying for B2 to F1 change of status?

To change your status from B2 to F1, it's recommended to apply online to reduce mailing errors. However, if you're applying with dependents for a status change, mailing your application is beneficial for a single filing fee for all. Note, this method may lead to closer examination of immigrant intent.

Can I study part-time on while on B2? Yes. Under federal law, tourists are permitted to enroll in brief, part-time educational courses while holding a B1/B2 visa.
Is it possible for my B-1/B-2 visa to be revoked upon applying for an F-1 visa?

Indeed, submitting an application for an F-1 student visa may result in the cancellation of your B1/B2 visa. This occurs as the application for an F1 visa indicates a shift in your travel objectives to the United States.

Can a tourist visa be converted to a student visa within the United States? Absolutely, transitioning from a tourist visa (B-2) to a student visa (F-1) while in the United States is feasible through the change of status application process. However, it's crucial to meet all necessary criteria and adhere to the prescribed legal steps.
Under what circumstances could a change of status from B-2 to F-1 be denied?

Lacking adequate financial documentation, harboring uncertainties about your educational goals, or submitting your application following the expiration of your B2 visa could result in the rejection of your application. To reduce the risk of denial, it's crucial to follow every guideline meticulously.

How to choose school when trying to change B2 to F1 in the US?

It's crucial to select a school that holds SEVP certification. Check this list before applying to verify your chosen institution's recognition by USCIS and its capability to welcome students seeking a change of status.

Typically, you have three kinds of institutions to consider when trying to change to F1 status:

Traditional Higher Education Institutions: These schools offer in-depth academic programs that demand a hefty course load, calling for a substantial commitment of both time and effort.

Day 1 CPT Universities: These institutions offer Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from the first day of enrollment, blending academic learning with practical work experience, ideal for those with prior work history. Additionally, Day 1 CPT universities distinguish themselves by offering six enrollment periods throughout the year, unlike traditional institutions. This feature is particularly advantageous for individuals whose applications are time-sensitive, such as those students seeking a status change.

English Language Programs: Many institutions offer English language courses to boost international students' skills before starting their academic journey. Yet, these programs may be less attractive to B2 visa holders looking to change their status, as English Language Studies (ELS) applications often have a higher rejection rate for those transitioning from B2 to F1 visa status.


Can I Study or Work While My Change of Status Application is Pending?

No. While your application is pending, you cannot work or study but may remain in the U.S. until a decision is made.

Will Change of Status have any impact on my future green card application?

Should you manage to articulate persuasive justifications for your status modification, it won't jeopardize your forthcoming immigration endeavors. Leveraging the expertise of a seasoned visa specialist and immigration lawyer, you're empowered to craft an explanation letter to USCIS that's not only persuasive but significantly boosts your likelihood of securing application success.

Connect with our visa specialist at no cost today!

Will there be a gap between my B2 and the new F1 status?

Under the guidelines set by USCIS, F1 visa students can enter the US up to 30 days before the start of their program. If your transition to F1 status be authorized beyond the 30-day prior to your course's start, you'll have a gap between your B2 status to your new F1 status.

In this case, you can choose to file another I-539 to extend your B status.

It is highly recommended to take quick action in the status change process. It is advisable to seek guidance from a professional before trying to navigate it independently.

B2 to F1 Change of Status Consultation

CPTDog Offers:

โœ“ One-on-One Free Initial Consultation with Visa Experts
โœ“ Personalized F1 School List Fits Your COS Timeline
โœ“ School Application Fee Wavier & Application Assistant 
โœ“ Scholarship Opportunities 
โœ“ Connecting to Immigration Lawyer and 30 mins Free Legal Consultation
โœ“ Premium Process - Get an Offer and I-20 within 3 days [added-value service]

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