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Change of Status From B-2 to F-1

Change of Status From B-2 to F-1

Individuals on a B-2 tourist visa are not allowed to legally study towards a degree program in the U.S. All prospective students with B-2 visa status should change their status to F-1 before pursuing a degree program at RCC.

Contact International Student Services (ISS) as soon as you know you must obtain F-1 status in order to discuss your options. This change of status can be especially challenging, and it may be best to travel, apply for an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status.

Important Notes on Applying for a Change of Status in the U.S.

  • The regulations prohibit beginning a full course of study until the change of status to F-1 is approved. Students cannot study legally until they receive their F1 change of status approval.
  • F-1 status cannot begin earlier than 30 days before the start date on your I-20. You should submit your application several months in advance, and you must be able to maintain your current B-1/B-2 status until 30 days before the I-20 start date.
  • If your tourist status will expire prior to 30 days before your I-20 start date, your application will most likely be denied. Even though you are allowed to stay in the U.S. while the application is pending, if your application is likely to be denied, it will be better for you to travel, obtain an F-1 visa abroad, and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status.
  • If approved, you will have only changed your STATUS. You will not receive a visa in your passport. If you plan to travel after changing your status, you will need to make an appointment with the U.S. consulate outside the U.S. and apply for an F-1 visa. The chances of the consular denying your visa may be higher. It is advised that you do not travel outside the country once your change of status is approved and until you complete your studies.


  1. Apply to Rockland Community College and submit all requirements for an international student applicant. Obtain an admission letter and I-20 from RCC.
  2. Meet with an International Student Services to discuss your options for obtaining an F1 visa. You can schedule a meeting by emailing or calling 845-574-4527.
  3. Prepare the required documents and follow next steps for obtaining F-1 status

Option 1: Travel and Reentry

Plan your travel and F-1 visa appointment accordingly.

  1. Pay the $200 SEVIS fee at
  2. Schedule a visa appointment at the local consulate in your home country by visiting and review all the requirements to apply for the F1 visa. You can apply for the F1 visa within 120 days of the start date on your I-20.
  3. Once a visa is obtained, you can enter the U.S. with your I-20 and F-1 visa no earlier than 30 days before the I-20 start date.

Option 2: Change of Status in the U.S.

After meeting with an ISS adviser and determining if you are eligible for applying for a change of status in the U.S., International Student Services will issue you a Change of Status SEVIS I-20 to be included in your admission packet. ISS will help guide you as to what is needed for your application packet, but it is your responsibility to mail the packet to USCIS. We highly suggest that you mail your application to the USCIS lockbox and do not complete it through the USCIS Electronic System.

Please review our B-1/B-2 to F-1 Change of Status Packet for more information about how to apply.