B-1/B-2 Visitors Generally Cannot Study
The majority of U.S. nonimmigrant visa statuses permit enrollment in a course of study at a University, community college, or a public school by the principal applicant and dependents. However, visitors are generally prohibited from enrolling in a course of study, which includes parents attending University as well as their children who may wish to attend public or private school while their parents are in the United States.
Here is the relevant law found in 8 CFR § 214.2(b):
“(7) Enrollment in a course of study prohibited. An alien who is admitted as, or changes status to, a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant on or after April 12, 2002, or who files a request to extend the period of authorized stay in B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status on or after such date, violates the conditions of his or her B-1 or B-2 status if the alien enrolls in a course of study. Such an alien who desires to enroll in a course of study must either obtain an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant visa from a consular officer abroad and seek readmission to the United States, or apply for and obtain a change of status under section 248 of the Act and 8 CFR part 248. The alien may not enroll in the course of study until the Service has admitted the alien as an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant or has approved the alien's application under part 248 of this chapter and changed the alien's status to that of an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant.”
The U.S. visitor rules do provide that a short course of study may be permitted in B-2 tourist visitor status for individuals “coming to the United States primarily for tourism, who also incidentally will engage in a short course of study during their visit.” See 9 FAM 402.2-4(A)(6). Although a short course of study may be an exception from this prohibition above, the definition of “short course of study” is not explicitly clear.
In the circumstance that a parent enrolled in a course of study while their children attended public school, a finding can be made that the parent violated their immigration status per the above and engaged in alien smuggling and entry fraud and misrepresentation associated with the children who attended school.
Therefore, conservatively, an individual should await approval of an appropriate change of status OR a visa application at a U.S. Consulate abroad and admission to the United States, before enrolling themselves or their children in a course of study.
The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.