I am currently in the U.S. as a tourist. I visited friends and family, and visited many places, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Now on my third month of vacation, I realize that I don’t want to return home yet. I want to stay longer to pursue a Masters degree. Is it possible for me switch to student status so I can study?


Yes you can switch from B-1/B-2 tourist status to F-1 student status while remaining in the U.S. 

Carmen Villamor Conversations on Immigration: Immigration Center Changing Status from Tourist to Student

To do this, you must submit an application to change status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).  The USCIS will review your application based on your ability to document and justify your change of primary purpose since having arrived in the U.S. as a tourist. You must establish that you did not have the intention of studying before entering as a visitor. 

Here is a general guide on what to include in your application for a change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1:

  1. Form I-539, Application to Adjust Status with $290 filing fee
  2. Form I-20 from your school of choice and proof of payment of the SEVIS fee
  3. Immigration documents:  I-94 card or photocopy of admission stamp and paper printout of I-94; photocopy of the visa and identification pages in your passport
  4. A letter from you, requesting a change of status and explaining your circumstances. Include the reasons why you entered as a B-1/B-2 tourist, and how your intentions changed after arrival. 
  5. Financial documentation to show how you will be supporting yourself while studying. 

You must make a photocopy of your entire application and supporting documents for your files before sending them to the USCIS.  After the USCIS receives your application, it will mail you a Form I-797 Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number. You can check the status of your application online by following the directions on the form.