If you are an international student planning to study in the USA, you might have arrived on a tourist visa with the intention of switching to a student visa. The process of switching from a tourist visa to a student visa can be a little complicated, but with the right information, it can be a smooth and successful process. This article will guide you through the process, the requirements, and some tips for converting your tourist visa to a student visa in the USA.
- You can change your visa status from a tourist visa to a student visa if you meet the requirements for the student visa.
- To convert to a student visa, you must apply for a change of status with USCIS before your current status expires.
- You cannot begin studies until your student visa is granted and your status has been changed.
- It is important to maintain your legal status while you are in the USA to avoid any potential issues with your application.
Step-by-Step Guide to Switching from a Tourist Visa to a Student Visa
Step 1: Choose a School and Get an Acceptance Letter
Before you apply for a change of status, you need to choose a school and have an acceptance letter from that school. You cannot enroll in a full-time course of academic or vocational study until you have been accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.
Step 2: Pay the SEVIS Fee
Once you have received the acceptance letter from your school, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee. SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, and it is a database that the U.S. government uses to keep track of international students. You must pay this fee before submitting your application for a change of status.
Step 3: File USCIS Form I-539 to Change Status
To change your status, you must file USCIS Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, before your current status expires. You should include the following documents in your application:
- A copy of your acceptance letter from the school
- Proof of financial support, such as bank statements or scholarship awards
- Your SEVIS fee receipt
- A copy of your passport
- Proof of your current immigration status, such as your I-94
Step 4: Wait for Your Application to be Processed
Once you have submitted your application, you will need to wait for USCIS to process it. USCIS will send a receipt notice to you once they receive your application. You can use this notice to check the status of your application.
Step 5: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment
USCIS will request that you attend a biometrics appointment after they receive your application. At this appointment, they will take your fingerprints and a photograph for their records.
Step 6: Await Your Decision
After USCIS has received all of the required information, they will review your application and make a decision. If your application is approved, USCIS will send you a new I-94 and your change of status will be effective from the date of the approval.
Tips for Converting Your Tourist Visa to a Student Visa
- Plan ahead: You should start the process of changing your status as early as possible to avoid any potential issues with your current status expiring before your student visa is approved.
- Be honest: When filling out your application, make sure to provide honest and accurate information. Providing false information could result in your application being denied or your visa being revoked.
- Maintain your legal status: It is important to maintain your legal status while you are in the USA to avoid any potential issues with your application. This means abiding by the terms of your tourist visa and refraining from any activities that could jeopardize your status.
Switching from a tourist visa to a student visa can be a complex process, but it is worth the effort to pursue your higher education in the USA. By following this guide and the tips mentioned above, you can make the process a bit smoother and maximize your chances of success.
Q: Can I enroll in a course of study while my change of status application is being processed?A: No. You must wait until your change of status is approved before beginning your studies.
Q: How long does the USCIS process take?A: The processing times for the I-539 can vary based on the time of year, as well as other factors. It is best to check the USCIS website for current estimated processing times.
Q: Can I travel outside the USA while my change of status application is being processed?A: You are generally permitted to travel outside of the USA while your change of status application is being processed, but it is important to check with an immigration attorney to ensure there are no restrictions specific to your case.