Can I change my J1 Visa to an F1 Visa ?

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Question:

Can I change my J1 Visa to an F1 Visa ?

Answer:

If you are a J-1 visa holder admitted to an academic program, then yes, you are permitted to change your status to F-1 if you intend to pursue studies as a full-time, academic student. 

In order to do this, you must provide proof of liquid assets that are sufficient to pay for one full year of your tuition, living expenses, insurance, and expenses for your dependents (if you have a spouse, children, or other dependents). Youracademic institution will be able to provide you with estimates for these amounts. 

As an applicant for an F-1 visa, you will also have to provide proof that you intend to return home at the completion of the academic program. For more information on how to prove this, see "How to Apply for a Student Visa (F-1 or M-1)."

J-1 visa holders subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement are eligible to change their status to F-1.  It is important to remember that the two-year foreign residence requirement will still have to be fulfilled if the change of status is successful. If you are subject to this requirement, see "Qualifying for a Waiver of the J-1 Two-Year Home Residence Requirement" for information on how to have it lifted in your case.

Once the academic institution that accepts you as an academic student issues you an I-20 form, you can apply to change status either by traveling home and applying for the F-1 visa at your local U.S. consulate, or by submitting an I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Each process has its advantages and drawbacks and you should consult an immigration attorney if you have questions or concerns. 

In any instance when you want to change your visa status, you should strongly consider speaking with a US immigration lawyer prior to making any application to USCIS in order to understand the application requirements for the visa you are trying to obtain. 

This site does not provide legal advice and users of this site should not interpret any of the information presented here as legal advice. The information provided merely conveys general information related to commonly asked legal questions. We are not a law firm and the employees responding to questions are not acting as your legal attorney. You should ultimately consult with a lawyer for your case.

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