How to change from U.S Visiting Visa (Tourist Visa) to Student Visa


How can someone traveling to the United States of America through visiting (tourist) visa can change from visiting visa to another type of visa (Student Visa)? Let learn How to change tourist visa to student visa in USA.

This guide will focus on being a student, two types of students in this particular case.

How to change Tourist Visa to Student Visa in USA

It is one of the most frequently asked question that is, “if I come to the United States through visiting, can I find a way to change it from one visa type to another visa type?”

The answer is yes. There are legal procedures someone can be able to do that and it will explain in this guide.

If you are going to U.S on a visit via B1, B2 visa, when you go there, it depends on the duration given to stay in the United States, the visa duration. While you are there, you can apply to become a student, and being a student, there are two types of students.

There are Students who are seeking degree and students who are going to do what is called non-degree program. These two categories also determine two different types of visas or categories of students. They are as below:

  • F1

F1 visa, which people talk about every time, because this is for people who are seeking degree.

When you travel to U.S, maybe you want to do bachelor’s degree or you go to community college, then bachelor’s degree, then you are going to do masters, doctorate, that is F1 student.

F1 student is an international student visa, which allows you to go to a university or college for a degree seeking program.

But what if you don’t want to get a degree? You are going to the vocational school. You are going to get what is called non-degree program.

Remember, in the United States, they don’t have something called diploma as a level of education like in other country. In U.S, diploma or certificate is called non-degree program.

So if you want to pursue what is called non-degree program, you are going to apply for M-visa, not F-1 visa, M1 visa.

  • M-1

M-1 visa is a visa for a student or a person who wants to travel to U.S to pursue non-degree program or rather going to study what is called the vocational schools.

You attend flight school, cooking school (culinary school), study Cosmetology (the study and application of beauty treatment), etc. There are certain programs you are allowed to go and take those one. If you want to take the English-speaking one, even if it’s non-degree program, is not part of the M1, is going to be part of the F1, that is one of the categories which is different.

Note: Not all institutions are allowed to give you M1 visa because you can apply for non-degree program for this certificate, e.g cosmetology, but just going out there and just get admitted doesn’t give you the documentations, which you can be allowed to enroll to those particular schools.

Remember, there are some schools that are not allowed to have international students. So in order to avoid that, there is a list of vocational and non-degree institutions which is called M1 students, are allowed to go.

There is something called a student exchange visitor program. In that particular category, there is a website, which is the website of the Department of Homeland Security, which has the list of all institutions which are allowed to enroll people to get these programs and the universities or institutions in general.


Some might be community colleges. They can allow to take M1 and F1 non-degree and degree seeking students, and some can be independent institutions, not directed to be the college in particular.

To see the institutions which are allowed, proceed here.

If you go to apply to an institution which is not allowed, then you are not going to be allowed to be given the visa.

Note: On that particular case, there are no scholarships in most cases when we talk about the non-degree programs. You are going on your own to learn any of your desired skill (e.g cooking, culinary speciality school, chef school, study about photography, videography, filming, etc).

Most of those one are not having scholarships. What does that mean? It means if you want to go to study for non-degree program, you have to prove that you are able to pay for tuition fees, and to be able to cater your own living expenses.

People who are in M1, are they allowed also to work like F1 student?

Remember, if you are a degree seeking student, F1, you are allowed to work 20 hours per week. Yes, M1 also are allowed to work 20 hours per week. Also, they’re allowed to work on campus.

What does that mean? If it’s a school year, you work on campus, when it is out of school, the holiday, you can work off campus, you are allowed to do that. But when you are looking for institutions, is better to look for bigger institution. Because if you look like a smaller institution, maybe they might not have works opportunities on campus for international students or rather M1 students, so better to look for the institution like community colleges.

Below is a website that has the name of states, name of the programs. You can select a state and you can choose all the programs you want in that particular state you want to apply.

Even if where you are outside the United States or you are inside the United States, that is one of the way you can be able to change, is to apply to do every single procedures and you’ll be given I-20, the same I-20 like someone is international student, M1 student will be given the same I-20 and you can be able to convert from one visa to become a student, either non-degree seeking or degree seeking student.

This is very important thing you need to understand about M1 visa.

Disclaimer: This site is not owned by any U.S Government Agency or an Immigration attorney. The contents in the site is for informational purpose only, collected from various public domains. You may need to contact an Immigration Attorney for your specific immigration needs.

I hope this guide has been helpful to you. Thanks.