Changing Status from Tourist (B2) to International Students (f1)
At American Learning Institute, an English Language School that issues SEVIS I-20 located in Carrollton, Texas, we assist many individuals who has aspiration to be acquires English proficiencies so that they many continue their study.
Recently, a potential student visited ALI and told us that he thought because of President Trump has changed a law that the change of status from a tourist to a student is not possible. Contrary to that Change of Status is adjudicate. Because, of long delays in the adjudication of the COS application, ALI recommends that an applicant should consider returning home country for a visa (a consular process rather than COS).
On or about April 5, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has “published” a notice of its website that was different from previous interpretation and guidance. However, because USCIS did not coordinate with other agencies on this “revision”, Student Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP” is a division of Immigration and Custom Enforcement of Department of Homeland Security) that issues an Student Exchange Visitor Information System form I-20 or SEVIS I-20 did not “published” concurrent or similar notices until May 10, 2017.
In general, [visitor] may apply to change [visitor’s] (your) nonimmigrant status while remaining in the United States if:
- you were lawfully admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant status;
- your nonimmigrant status remains valid;
- you have not violated the conditions of your status; and
- you have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for change of status.
Before USCIS may approve your application, you must take the following steps:
- Apply to and receive acceptance from a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.
- Obtain an initial Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, from the SEVP-certified school. The Designated School Official (DSO) should give change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
- File a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS.
USCIS advises that:
… [B]ecause of processing times, your F-1 or M-1 program start date may be deferred to the following academic term or semester because USCIS did not make a decision on your Form I-539 change of status application before your originally intended F-1 or M-1 program start date. In that instance, you will need to obtain status all the way up to the date which is 30 days before your new program start date. If you had already filed an I-539 to bridge the original gap, you may need to file another I-539 to bridge the new gap.
Since May 10, 2017 publication, ALI has advised potential students that they be aware of this “bridge” filing. If a tourist wants to change his/her status from a tourist to a student, you may need to:
- file Change of Status application, usually form I-539 prior to school start date,
- file “bridge” extension of status application, usually form I-539, prior to school start date,
- DSO to deferred your school start date,
- file “bridge” extension of status application, usually form I-539, before your deferred school start date, and
- DSO to defer your school start date.
Timing of DSO deferment of school start date and filing of “bridge” extension is very critical. The need for “bridge” depends on the adjudication of COS filing. At the time of USCIS adjudication, if your documents are in order, your COS may be approved. ALI is aware of many cases where student has successfully changed their status to F1 ESL students.