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Change of Status to J-1

If the prospective exchange visitor is currently in the U.S. in a different immigration status, there are two ways they could attempt to obtain the new J-1 status:

USCIS Change of Status While Remaining in the U.S.

This option allows the prospective exchange visitor to stay in the U.S. while they wait for the J-1 to be approved by USCIS. There are two separate phases of this process: applying for the DS-2019 with ISSS, then applying for the Change of Status with USCIS.

This option is not possible if:

  • The applicant is subject to the 2 Year Rule from a previous J-1 or J-2 presence in the U.S.
  • The applicant is in the U.S. in WB (waiver for business) or WT (waiver for tourism) status
  • Other unique factors in someone’s case could eliminate this option. Consult with ISSS.

Overview of the Process

The average wait for individuals wishing to stay in the United States while their change of status is reviewed is 4 months. The wait, however, can be unpredictable (3-9 months), so this is not a good option for someone needing to start their J-1 status soon.

  1. Request DS-2019 from ISSS
  2. If the application is approved after being reviewed for eligibility, ISSS issues a DS-2019. (Individuals should allow 2-3 weeks for processing).
  3. The applicant receives the DS-2019 and contacts ISSS for instructions.
  4. If the applicant is near the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, they should meet with an ISSS adviser as soon as they receive the DS-2019. They should discuss their unique case, process, and timeline with the adviser. Applicants unable to meet with an adviser in person should contact ISSS directly for instructions. (For best assistance throughout your process: request to meet/discuss your case with the same adviser with whom you met with previously.)
  5. Applicant submits USCIS Change of Status materials and waits for the J-1 status to be approved. USCIS must receive these materials before the individual’s current immigration status (or grace period) expires. For some cases, USCIS must also approve the J-1 before the current status expires.
    • ISSS should be notified if USCIS has not yet approved the J-1 status after 20 days of the DS-2019 start date, as an amended start date might be needed.

Consular Process via Re-entry to the U.S.

This option often allows for the prospective exchange visitor to obtain their J-1 status more quickly. This process requires the individual to leave the U.S., apply for a J-1 entry visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, and then return to the U.S. to enter in the new J-1 status.

Overview of the Process

The average wait for applying for a J-1 entry visa after leaving the U.S. is approximately one month.

  1. Request DS-2019 from ISSS
  2. If the application is approved after being reviewed for eligibility, ISSS issues a DS-2019. Individuals should allow 2-3 weeks for processing.
  3. The applicant receives the DS-2019 and leaves the U.S. (or it is mailed to them abroad, if they already left the U.S.)
  4. The applicant will follow the typical new J-1 scholar visa process and return to the U.S. in their J-1 status during their arrival grace period.
  5. If the applicant has questions about their case, they should contact ISSS directly. If they are near the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, they should meet with an ISSS adviser as soon as they have the DS-2019. Applicants unable to meet with an adviser in person may contact ISSS via email or phone. (For best assistance throughout your process: request to meet/discuss your case with the same adviser with whom you met with previously.)

Last Update: February 16, 2016

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