Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary

Changing Status to J-1

If you are currently in the U.S. and decide to change from another immigration status to J-1, the steps you must take are detailed below.  If you are not currently in another immigration status and are entering the U.S. to begin an academic program or as a visiting scholar for the first time, changing status does not apply to you.

In order to obtain a J-1 student status, you must have been admitted to a full-time course of study at William & Mary and have sufficient financial resources to meet your program's tuition, fees, and living expenses. In order to obtain a J-1 scholar status, you must have received a visiting scholar sponsorship from a William & Mary department and have sufficient financial resources to cover your living expenses. You must also have received a Form DS-2019 from the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) or another sponsoring J-1 Exchange Visitor Program documenting your eligibility to pursue a full-time course of study at the College.

Methods of Changing Status

There are two methods by which you can change your status to J-1: Travel and Re-entry or Form I-539. The second method, Form I-539, does not require you to leave the U.S. but generally takes longer.

  • Once you change status, you must follow the rules of the new status, including being enrolled full-time (for students) and working only with authorization.
  • If you are currently in B or F-2 status, you must wait until your change of status is approved before attending classes. Statuses such as J-2, H-4, A-1, etc. allow study in those statuses and thus you may begin/continue study while awaiting your change of status.
  • In all change of status cases, no J-1 benefits are available, including any kind of employment (e.g., graduate or teaching assistantships), until your change of status is approved.
  • Once you change to J-1 status, you are no longer eligible for in-state tuition rates. Contact the Registrar's Office for details.
  • If you travel abroad while a change of status application (I-539) is pending, USCIS considers the application abandoned and will reject it. You will need to go to a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new visa to re-enter. You will then have to wait 30 days before the start date of the I-20 or DS-2019 to re-enter the U.S., even with that new visa.
Contact ISSP

You should contact ISSP in the following circumstances:

  • Prior to making a final decision whether to use the Travel and Re-entry or Form I-539 option
  • If you need to leave the U.S. after you submit your application to USCIS for a change of status
  • If USCIS contacts you with a request for more information (RFE) concerning your application for a change of status
  • If USCIS does not respond to your application within 3 months
  • If your I-94 or other immigration documents have expired
  • If you are in H-1B status but are no longer working for your H-1B sponsor
  • If you are in L-1 status but no longer working for your L-1 sponsor
  • If an application for permanent residency has been filed on your behalf.
  • If you believe you are out of status for any reason