If you are in the U.S. on a specific nonimmigrant visa and wish to change your status to another nonimmigrant category, you must file the appropriate request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Therefore, if you entered the U.S. on a tourist visa, but now want to attend school in the U.S., you would have to apply for a student visa.
As soon as you determine that you want to change your status, you should take the steps necessary to submit your request, since processing times can be lengthy. You must change your status before your current status expires. You also should not modify your activities, such as by enrolling in school, until your new status has been approved. Otherwise, you could end up present in the U.S. without a legal immigration status. This could lead to you being deported or barred from returning to the U.S.
Generally, you can change your nonimmigrant status if you meet the following conditions:
- You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa.
- Your nonimmigrant status is still valid.
- You have not violated any of the conditions of your immigration status.
- You have not committed any crimes that would you ineligible.
However, you do not need to change your nonimmigrant status to attend school in the U.S. if you are the spouse or child of individuals who were lawfully admitted to the U.S. in specific nonimmigrant visa categories. These categories include temporary workers on H visas, international trade and investors on E visas, or representatives of foreign media on I visas, among others.
There also are some nonimmigrant statuses that do not permit you to apply for a student visa or other nonimmigrant status. These individuals include those who are in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, informants on terrorism or organized crime, or fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens or dependents of fiancé(e)s. The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration issue.