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Entering the US as a tourist for the summer before F1 starts - please HELP!!!!

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Hey everyone!
I would really appreciate if anyone could help me out with the following issue:

I will start grad school at Stanford in Fall 2013, but would like to come to the US before the 30-days-prior-to-start-date limit imposed by the F1 status. Reasons are travel and finding a place to live in San Francisco. The plan would be the following: enter as a tourist (Visa waiver - I'm from Spain) in early July and spend a couple months in the country, then step out (say, to Canada) for a few days, and come back to the US with F1 status when the time is right. I would have my F1 visa sorted out beforehand, of course.

Would this work? Might there be any immigration issues?

Thanks a million!!!!!


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I think that it shouldn't be a problem because you will re-enter the country with with your F-1.


strongly suggest that you ask your International Students Office and the US consulate closest to you. Gather as much information as possible from official sources. :)

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I think that should be fine. What I've heard is not a good idea is to change your immigration status from tourist to student without leaving the country, but if you leave and re-enter then that should work. Just make sure the immigration officer uses the correct visa for each entry (waiver for first, F1 for second) so you're in the correct status all of the time.

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Since for your first entrance you do not require a visa to enter as a tourist, I do not think you will have any difficulties at the border. Your next entrance will be as a student, and will observing the immigration rules, entering under the right non-immigrant categories and not abusing your status.

I would not worry about it.

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It should work, because I did that (both Mexico on foot and Canada by plane). Just make sure you get your plan right when you first go into the U.S. everything that you said will go into record, and when you re-enter the U.S. with an F-1, it shouldn't give you much problem as long as nothing sounds very abnormal to those DHS officers.


For the record (and future references to anyone here), the interpretation of "outside of the U.S." varies, depends on the boarder and the officer. You would think that going to Mexico and come back to the U.S. would be legitimate, and I was warned by this DHS officer at Tijuana that, the way they interpret "outside of the U.S." is really "outside of the North America". Meaning that they consider Canada and Mexico as "part of the U.S." when it comes to this particular discussion on switching VISAs at the boarder.


Don't loving doubt what I told you. I was the one who waited at Tijuana border (to go back to the U.S.) after waiting 2 hours in line, then told by DHS officers guarding/sitting in front of the entrance (to San Yisdro) that I need to be further evaluate due to the change of my VISA status, walk all the way back to their offices, waiting more than an hour to see an officer, argue with her about the definition of "outside of the U.S.", then finally, the boss of this officer granted me an "exception" to change my VISA at TJ-US border while they warned me with their own definition of "outside of the U.S.". Bonus: they allowed me to jumped in front of the line with a stamp/card attached, but of course, some other people won't understand why are you allow to jump in front of him/her, and cursed at you. Just a little story and experience on crossing the border at TJ.

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