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Will a person having a B1/B2 visa be allowed to retain their B1/B2 visa status along with F1 status? If so, can that person enter USA with the B1/B2 visa? I want to enter USA more than 30 days before my course starts at my university, which is not allowed with a F1 visa. Will it be necessary for me to leave and re-enter USA with an F1 visa before commencement of my course?

  • I am in an exactly similar position. I want to enter on B1/B2 before 30 days and then exit and re-enter from Mexico or Canada on F1 once it becomes applicable. Could you please share what happened with you or if you got any other advice? – Adhiraj Apr 3 '17 at 11:54
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As per the B1-B2 visa, you are not allowed to stay within the country for greater than six months, this was easily checked in the past with the I-94 form. As of now, this form is completely electronic, but the restriction still holds.

So, I'd say there are some kinks to the process. If you were to consider - "Okay, but I'll leave within 6 months and return back to resume my education, is it legal then?" It's definitely not legal as a B1/B2 visa does not allow you to study in the United States.

Your university might ask you for a copy of the I-94 record which would then state that you entered with regard to your B1/B2 visa and not your F1 visa. My university verified this information after I entered the US for the first time i.e. they took copies of the Passport, Visa, I-20 and I-94.

But, you can change your status. If you do choose to enter with your B1/B2 Visa, you have two options:

  • You re-enter the United States with the F1 Visa and pursue your education.
  • You apply to USCIS and request for a change in status from B2 to F1.

An important FAQ you should definitely read is available on the USCIS website. I highly recommend going thru it.

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    Anecdote from having had three different J-1 visas: I believe in each case they explicitly warned us from trying to change the status within the country. Apparently that process can cause all different types of problems, so reentering the country would be safer. – mrks Apr 3 '17 at 14:29

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