J-1: Change of Status

There are two methods that can be used to change status from J-1 research scholar or J-1 faculty to another non-immigrant status:

  1. Consular processing outside the USA.
    • Upon issuance of the DS-2019, the scholar applies for a J-1 visa at a US Consulate outside the USA. Once issued, the scholar presents the J-1 visa during during 'inspection' at a US port-of-entry or border, which occurs as part of the processing seeking physical admission to the USA. The officer at the port-of-entry or border grants the scholar "J-1 status" and admits them. The scholars Form I-94 record, when obtained from the US government's online system, shows that the scholar holds J-1 status.
  2. Change of Status within the USA.
    • Upon issuance of the DS-2019, the scholar prepares and submits to the USCIS a Form I-539 Application to Extend or Change Status. The USCIS information page for the Form I-539 application lists the applicable filing fee for this Form, as well as other instructions. When the USCIS completes their processing of the application, it issues a Form I-797 Approval Notice that confirms that the request for eligibility for the J-1 classification is approved, and additionally incorporates a Form I-94 Record into the lower portion of the approval that actually grants the scholar the J-1 status. The scholar does not hold J-1 status until and unless that Form I-94 Record showing J-1 status is issued. The scholar must have the Form I-797 approval notice "in hand" to begin their activities at Purdue; electronic confirmation that the approval has been issued is insufficient.
    • Scholars should check the posted USCIS processing times to understand how long it might be before they hold active J-1 status. On the USCIS processing times webpage, scholars should select "Form I-539" and "Change of Status to F or M student or J exchange visitor category" from the drop-down boxes. The first three digits of the scholar's receipt will indicate the service center responsible for processing the case.
    • Most service centers report that I-539 processing takes several (5+) months. Premium Processing is the USCIS' rush service. By requesting premium processing (and paying the additional filing fee for this service, as listed on the premium processing webpage) scholars might reduce the USCIS processing time to 15 calendar days. If there is a clear business need for premium processing of the I-539, the department may inquire with ISS (intlscholars@purdue.edu) for permission to reimburse the scholar for a portion or all of this fee. 

Individuals interested in changing status to J-1 must talk with an ISS Counselor to confirm that this is a viable plan before finalizing their plans.