Changing to F-1 from B-1/B-2 or another nonimmigrant status
The U.S. immigration law requires that a visa applicant apply for the type of visa that reflects what they actually intend to do while present in the U.S. Those entering in one status and quickly changing to another may incur some risk. Please read the following points carefully, as the consequences of a "fraud and misrepresentation" accusation can be quite severe.
The "Prospective Student" stamp: Perhaps no visa category receives more scrutiny than the B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa. Those applying for this status must avow that they intend to come to the U.S. only for a visit. Thus, if an individual has even a remote desire to change his or her status to F-1, it is imperative that those intentions be clearly expressed to the consular officer at the time the B-1/B-2 visa is requested. In this way, the Visitor Visa can be endorsed with a "Prospective Student" stamp that would facilitate a later change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 or M-1. However, even if the change of status granted by the USCIS, any subsequent visa applications made at a U.S. consulate abroad may still be denied based on the consular officer's belief that the individual "materially misrepresented" his or her intent when entering the U.S. as a visitor and staying on to study.
The "30-60" rule: To reduce the risk of a fraud accusation, a person in B-1/B-2 status should wait 60 to 90 days after entry to file for a change of status to F-1. The State Department uses a "30-60" rule in assessing the likelihood of fraud when a status change is requested soon after a person's arrival in the United States. A request made within 30 days of arrival bears a presumption that the individual committed fraud in the initial visa application. No presumption of misrepresentation arises if the request to change status is made between 30 and 60 days after arrival, but USCIS may still conclude that a misrepresentation occurred. However, status changes requested more than 60 days after arrival receive less scrutiny, and such requests are not typically viewed as fraudulent if there is no clear evidence of fraud.
Changing to F-1 from other nonimmigrant categories: Generally, if there is no evidence of a preconceived intent to attend school, a change to student status can be obtained without the high level of scrutiny afforded the Visitor Visa category. Nevertheless, it is important that the F-1 applicant fulfill all of the requirements necessary to qualify for the F-1 category and be able to provide all the necessary documents.