B-1/B-2 Visitors Generally Cannot Study


While most U.S. nonimmigrant visa statuses allow the principal applicant and their dependents to enroll in educational courses at universities, community colleges, or public schools, this is generally not permissible for visitors on B-1 or B-2 visas. Parents attending university or their children wishing to enroll in public or private schools while in the U.S. on these visitor visas face strict restrictions.

Relevant Law

The legal framework surrounding this restriction is outlined in 8 CFR ยง 214.2(b)(7), which clearly states that enrollment in a course of study is prohibited for individuals admitted or changed to a B-1 or B-2 status after April 12, 2002. Such individuals violate their visa conditions if they enroll in a course of study without proper authorization. To legally enroll in a course, they must either:

  1. Obtain a student visa such as an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant visa from a consular officer abroad and re-enter the U.S., or
  2. Apply for and obtain a change of status to F-1, M-1, or other nonimmigrant status permitting study under section 248 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and 8 CFR part 248.

They cannot commence their studies until U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has admitted them on a visa or until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved a change of status to one of these nonimmigrant classifications which authorizes study.

Exceptions for Short Courses

There is a minor exception for B-2 tourists who might engage incidentally in a short course of study during their visit, as outlined in 9 FAM 402.2-4(A)(6). However, the definition of “short course of study” remains vague, and reliance upon this provision can be risky.

Risks of Non-Compliance

If a parent on a visitor visa enrolls in a course while their children attend school, it can lead to findings of immigration status violations, potentially being charged with alien smuggling, and committing entry fraud and misrepresentation. These findings can lead to an indefinite ban from the United States, referred to as an inadmissibility, and waivers of these grounds of inadmissibility (i.e. pardons) are incredibly difficult if not impossible to obtain in certain circumstances. Such serious charges underscore the importance of adhering strictly to visa conditions.


Conservatively, individuals should not enroll themselves or their dependents in any educational programs until they have secured approval for an appropriate change of status or a visa from a U.S. Consulate and have been lawfully admitted to the United States under the correct status.


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.