In the United States, a tourist visa is a category B (business or pleasure visitation) non-immigrant visa and, under most circumstances, eligible for a visa status change to a student visa, designated category F-1. The difficulty lies in providing the necessary information to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with enough time to process the application with the abundance of requests they receive every day.
Submit your application before your current status expires. If your paperwork is submitted and accepted (i.e., everything was filled out correctly) no later than 45 days before your tourist visa expires, you may remain in the country until USCIS makes its decision.
Check your eligibility. Your passport must be valid for the entire extension of your stay under the student category you request. If you have violated the terms of your visa, you are considered "out of status" and have very little chance of getting your request accepted. Those in removal proceedings are not eligible for a status change.
Fill out Form I-539. This form is five pages long and available online (see Resources). You may fill it out online or print and mail it to the address accepting filings for the state of your residence. The address can be found on the "Forms" page at the USCIS website.
Attach your original I-94. You filled out an Arrival-Departure Record (an I-94 form) for your tourist visa. Provide the original document to your I-539 when filing the paperwork. All original documents will be returned after processing.
Provide the appropriate financial documentation. The student visa requires proof (such as a certified bank statement) of your ability to support yourself and your studies.
Include your fee. The current filing fee is available under the "Forms" section of the USCIS website. The money has to come from a U.S. financial institution in the form of a check or money order. Address checks to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." If you live in Guam, however, all checks go to "Treasurer, Guam." Applicants from the U.S. Virgin Islands make checks payable to "Commissioner of Finance of the Virgin Islands."
Track your visa status. After your application is received, you will receive a receipt in the mail with a tracking number and an estimated process time. Use the tracking number at the USCIS website to check the status of your application.