Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

For B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Wish to Attend School in the U.S.

On April 5th, CIS updated its Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors who want to Enroll in School. Studying in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status is prohibited. The regulations specifically prohibit B-1/B-2 visitors from enrolling in a course of study in the United States. (8 CFR 214.2(b)(&)). A "course of study" refers to a formal educational program that leads to an academic degree or vocational certification. Short recreational classes or courses, nowhere are permitted. For instance, one may enroll in a cooking class while on vacation with a visitor visa.

Enrolling in and attending courses which may count towards a degree or certificate are not permitted while on visitor status. Doing so why result in the violation of one's visitor status. Individuals who violate their nonimmigrant status remain ineligible to extend or change their B status or change to F-1/M-1 status.

Before enrolling in any formal course of study or attending classes in the United States, individuals who are currently in visitor status must first acquire F-1 or M-1 student status. This is possible if 1) the applicant has not yet attended classes; 2) the applicant's current status has not expired, and 3) the applicant has not engaged in unauthorized employment in the U.S.

Applicants must maintain their B-1 or B-2 status up to 30 days before the initial F-1 or M-1 program start date. If current status will expire more than 30 days before the intended start date of your F-1 or M-1 program, CIS now mandates that a second Form I-539 (to extend your B-1/B-2 status) be filed to bridge that gap. If this request for an extension is not timely filed, CIS may deny the Form I-539 request to change to F or M status.

Sometimes, the initial program start date is deferred to the following academic term or semester because CIS has yet to make a decision. When this happens, schools generally work with the applicants to push this start date to the next term or semester. It is generally not a problem.

Ultimately, if a B visitor is ineligible to change status to F-1 or M-1 while in the U.S., one may still apply for a student visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. In any case, a B visitor should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess the best course of action. We at Wilner & O'Reilly are no strangers to the needs of universities and international students alike. Simply put, it's not our first rodeo.



Richard M. Wilner

Founding Partner

Richard M. Wilner is a founding member of Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC and is Board Certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He is admitted to practice law in the State of California and before the U.S. District Courts for the Central, Northern and Southern Districts of California, the Northern District of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.


Nancy Vo


Nancy Vo is currently an Associate Attorney at Wilner & O'Reilly. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Whittier Law School. While at Whittier, she was an editor on Whittier Law Review, had an article published in 2015, and earned a CALI award in Legal Writing. Ms. Vo earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Public Law from the University of California, San Diego.

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