Current non-immigrant visa holders who are inside the U.S. and have maintained lawful status may request a change to J-1 or F-1 visa status if their primary purpose for being in the U.S. changes.

Typically, if an individual files a timely application for a change of status and/or extension of stay, they may remain inside the U.S. while their application is adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is dependent on the individual having been in a valid visa status when they filed the application, and their valid status remaining active until the date the new visa status is requested to begin.

To learn more about visa options and the application process, contact your EVS advisor.

NOTE: Current J-2 or F-2 dependent children who will soon turn 21 must file for a change of status or prepare to leave the U.S. Change of status applications should be filed at least 8-10 months before the individual’s 21st birthday.

Restrictions on Changing to J-1 or F-1 Status

Certain non-immigrant visa holders cannot change to J-1 or F-1 visa status while in the U.S. They may still be eligible to apply for the visa status, but must do so outside the U.S.

The following visa holders cannot change to J-1/F-1 status inside the U.S.:

  • M-1 students
  • C, D, and K non-immigrants
  • J-1 exchange visitors who want to change to another J-1 category
  • J-1 or J-2 exchange visitors subject to the 212(e) rule*
  • Foreign nationals admitted under 8 C.F.R. § 212.1(e), using B-1/B-2 visas**
  • WT and WB non-immigrants admitted under the Visa Waiver Program

*Individuals subject to the 212(e) 2-year home residency requirement may not change to any other visa status within the U.S.

**Individuals with a “prospective student” notation on their B-2 visa can request a change to F-1 status. If the request is denied, USCIS will notify the individual and request they voluntarily leave the U.S.