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Changing Non-Immigrant Status in the United States

Immigration Advising

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J-1 Visa Status Home

Eligibility for Change of Status to J-1

Aliens holding nonimmigrant status C, D, K, WB or WT (transit, crewman, fiancée or fiancé, waiver business, or waiver tourist) are not eligible for change to any other status within the U.S., including J-1. A J-2 who is subject to the 212(e) home residence requirement may not change from J-2 to J-1 status in the United States.

Aliens who are in good standing in any other nonimmigrant classification may apply to change to any other nonimmigrant status for which they qualify. In any application for change of status, the alien should explain satisfactorily why he or she did not originally enter the U.S. in the status now being requested. A change of circumstances or intention should be documented or explained to make the application acceptable. USCIS may deny a request by an F-1 student to change to J-1 Student status if the adjudicating officer believes that the reason for the change is principally to enable the dependents to apply for permission to accept employment.

Generally, nonimmigrants who have filed a timely application for change of status to a different nonimmigrant status or have filed an application for extension of stay can remain in the United States while their application is being adjudicated by USCIS. This assumes that the person was in valid nonimmigrant status when he or she filed the application, and that the current nonimmigrant status of the applicant will continue to be valid up until the date that the new status is requested to begin.

Procedures for Applying for Change of Status to J-1

To apply for a change of status, the alien must submit to the appropriate USCIS Service Center:

  • Form DS-2019 properly completed by the RO and completed and signed by the Exchange Visitor, as well as a Form DS-2019 for each accompanying dependent family member
  • Proof of having paid SEVIS fee (See AM § Part 6-H: "The SEVIS I-901 fee" for more information)
  • Form I-539, completed by the prospective exchange visitor, including information on any accompanying family members
  • Correct I-539 fee in the form of a check or money order (See AM § 15.2.1 "USCIS filing fees")
  • Copies of financial support documents
  • Original Form I-94 and copies of any other documents that establish current maintenance of nonimmigrant status. Form I-539 states that the original I-94 must be submitted, although some advisers report that some Service Centers accept copies.
  • Properly completed and endorsed I-566 if changing from A or G status
  • (Some USCIS Service Centers have also been requesting copies of passports and visas)

  • Send all of the above to the correct USCIS Service Center

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