Is it permissible to enroll in school while in B-1/B-2 (Tourist/Business) status?
The answer is ‘No.’ The regulations specifically prohibit a course of study in the United
States while in B-1 or B-2 status.
Before enrolling in a course of study, 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 a course of study 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 a course of study, 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 a course of study, you may apply to change to either F-1 or M-1 student status if:
- You have not yet enrolled in classes;
- Your current status has not expired; and
- You have not worked in the United States without employment authorization.
To change your nonimmigrant status from B-1 or B-2 to F-1 or M-1, you must file a Form I-539 and include the required fee ($370) and supporting documents.
You must maintain your B-1 or B-2 status while your Form I-539 is pending. You will need to file a second Form I-539, with a separate fee, to request an extension of your B-1 or B-2 status if:
- Your current status will expire more than 30 days before the initial F-1 or M-1 program start date; or
- Your F-1 or M-1 program start date is deferred to the following academic term or semester because the Immigration did not make a decision on Form I-539 change of status application before your originally intended F-1 program start date.
Because extending your current stay in B-1 or B-2 status and changing from B-1 or B-2 to F-1 or M-1 status are two distinct benefits, you must pay a separate filing fee for each request.
Sometimes, school you are planning to attend threats you to attend the class with a payment of tuition while your change of status application is pending. As explained above, if you attend a class while your change of status application is pending, your application will be denied. Let the school know this.
Kiju Joseph Sung, Esq.
Copyright ⓒ Law Office of Kiju Joseph Sung