I have been accepted into the PhD program offered by the Molecular and Cell Biology department at a US university and I am supposed to join this August. My F1 visa appointment is on 25th July. Now classes at the university start on 21st August. Considering my department is Biology (although my research will be in Computational Biology), there is a very high chance for me to get the 221g which would delay getting the visa by a month (Most Biology students are getting the 221g of late since it is in the 'Technology Alert List'). As a result, I would arrive US possible after start of class, and seeing this there is very high probability that the immigration officer would deny me entry. I asked the officials at my university regarding arriving late and they said -

If you arrive later than the "report to school" date on your I-20, the immigration officer at the port of entry has authority to turn you away. If you are allowed to enter the United States but are not allowed to register for classes, you will be in violation of your visa status.

My attempts to solution-

I asked some students I know who study in the US regarding this and one of them suggested -

What you can do is, travel on a tourist visa. Reach there, get your TB test done anywhere in the states and wait for your visa to come.
Also, write to the university, they'll be able to help you better.

I asked the school officials about this. They provided me a link related to the different visa types for students at the university (https://www.utdallas.edu/isso/non-fj/). I went through the link they provided and I understood the following -

  1. My school permits qualified students with the B1/B2 visa (tourist visa) to enroll in classes, and to engage in degree-seeking study. However, immigration regulations specifically prohibit study in the U.S. If you currently hold B-1/B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to enroll in classes, you may apply for a change of status to F-1
  2. Processing for a change of status commonly requires approximately 6 months, so plan ahead.

​ So, ​since I can't study on tourist visa (according to immigration regulations), and change of visa to F1 generally takes 6 months, I would not be able to execute this plan right now.

Question -

My question then is, can you suggest another course of action, given my current situation (for example, is there something I can say to visa interviewer? OR can I travel by some other visa type? OR is there something wrong in my current analysis of the situation?). Any help would be really beneficial for me, as I do not wish delaying joining the institute by another semester.

  • sorry, long term relocations are off topic here – mzu Jul 6 '17 at 11:32
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    @mzu, I just wanted to know what would be a possible solution to this problem - having tried extensively to find a solution, and being a complete beginner in this topic. Also, it directly relates to F1 visa situations and we do have f1-visa as a valid tag here. Relocation is not what this really is - it's a problem any student going to another country for education can face, and I wanted to know the best way to deal with the visa situation. Also there are many questions on this site similar to this one. Plus, I am willing to reframe the question anyway you like, if this has any flaws – devon56 Jul 6 '17 at 11:40
  • The correct site for questions about studying in another country is expatriates.stackexchange.com. – Nate Eldredge Jul 6 '17 at 12:33
  • We should probably put a note about this in the f1-visa tag guidance. – Nate Eldredge Jul 6 '17 at 12:37
  • @NateEldredge, thanks for that. Do you think I should transfer this question to Expatriates SE, or do I have a better chance of getting an answer here, given it's a bigger community? – devon56 Jul 6 '17 at 12:50