People from abroad who are visiting Maryland and decide that they want to further their education may be able to switch their visas from visitor to student status. However, it is important to know that foreign nationals are generally not allowed to attend school before this switch is made. There are two ways in which they may change their status.
First, they may file form I-539 with the USICS while they are in the United States. This process is not recommended because many applications are denied. If they decide to change their visa status too quickly, they may be suspected of fraud. The potentially better option is to leave the country after obtaining a Form I-20 within the past 30 days and use the DS-160 to apply for a change in status at a consulate in their home country.
It may be the recommended course of action because a consulate may be considered a better expert on student visas. Since an F visa is good for five years, it allows a person to stay in the United States for a longer period of time. It also may allow an individual to have a cleaner immigration history. As soon as the visa is granted, people may enter the country and begin their studies.
Individuals who wish to apply for a student visa may be able to do so at any time. Prior to doing so, it may be beneficial to talk with an immigration attorney. Those who have an attorney may be able to better answer questions either on immigration forms or during interviews, but individuals are free to go through the process on their own.