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J1 Visa to H1B: How to do Change of Status for Postdoc?

Updated: May 15

Changing status from J1 to H1B visa is possible if the J1 visa holder has obtained a waiver (refer to this I-612 approval notice from USCIS), or you have fulfilled the 2-year home residency requirement or you are not subjected to the 2-year home residency requirement at all.

J1 exchange visitor scholars can maintain J1 visa status for a maximum of 5 years. If you work in an academy, and your J1 visa is set to expire soon, and you wish to remain in the US after its completion, you must file for a J1 to H1B change of status before your J1 visa expires.



Table of Contents: J1 to H1B


J1 to H1B Without Waiver

J1 visa holders cannot convert to an H1B visa without a waiver if they are subject to a 2-year home residency rule. Before applying for an H1B visa, J1 visa holders must meet one of the following conditions:


  • Obtain a waiver from the US Department of State, i.e., I-612 approval notice from USCIS.

  • Fulfill the two-year home residency requirement as required for J1 exchange visitors.



Academic H1B to Industry H1B

After acquiring an academic H1B, many individuals eventually transition to the industry. The shift from academic H1B to industry H1B offers unique advantages like:


  • Academic H1B is cap-exempt from the annual quota applicable to private employers.

  • Academic H1B is not subject to the regular lottery process seen in industry H1B.

  • Furthermore, academic H1Bs can be filed at any time during the year, providing greater flexibility compared to the industry H1B.


J1 to H1B for Postdoc

If you're a postdoc and want to switch from J1 to H1B, talk to your boss and the International Office well in advance to see if they are willing to sponsor you for an H1B. If they agree, submit the H1B petition at least 6 months before your J1 program ends to avoid any interruption in your work visa.



J1 to H1B Change of Status

The steps for changing status from a J1 visa to an H1B can vary among different universities, but the general criteria remain consistent. International offices at universities or institutes may request the submission of specific documents, and you may need to upload these documents through the international office's online system.


These are the documents required for the change of status from J1 to H1B:


  • Copies of all degrees or diplomas; if not in English, include a certified English translation.

  • Resume/CV.

  • Credentials evaluation (Highest degree) if obtained outside the US.

  • Latest I-94.

  • Copies of passport and visa pages.

  • DS-2019 (if currently on J1 visa).

  • USCIS Waiver approval notice (Form I-612).

  • Last 6 months' pay stubs.


J2 to H4 Change of Status

If you have dependents, you can either file for H4 along with the primary H1B petition or opt for a J2 to H4 change of status after the H1B approval. It's advisable to get the International Office's opinion as each case is different. Also, sometimes universities do not pay for a dependent's visa. Regardless, the following documents are required for the H4 visa application.


  • Marriage certificate (include certified English translation if not in English)

  • Birth certificate (for the child, if any)

  • Copies of passport pages and visa

  • Latest I-94

  • Copy of DS-2019

  • Proof of any other visa type (if held previously)

  • Completed Form I-539

  • Check for $470 (please check the USCIS website for any updates)



Upon submitting all required documents to your university's international office, they will prepare an LCA (Labor Condition Agreement) for you. The "Department of Labor" must certify it before processing your H1B petition, a step your employer will handle on your behalf, taking approximately one to two months.


Subsequently, your international office will submit your H1B application to the USCIS along with supporting documents and filing fees (checks).


J1 to H1B Processing Time

The standard processing time for J1 to H1B conversion typically ranges from 2 to 10 months, and in some cases, even longer, as the USCIS timeline can vary. Opting for H1B premium processing, however, usually results in a response from USCIS within 15 days, with an additional fee of $2,805.


H1B premium processing


J1 to H1B Transfer Fees

Your university should cover all the fees for J1 to H1B transfer, and ultimately, these expenses will be deducted from your professor's funding, based on my understanding. Behind the scenes, the International Office may apply additional charges to prepare your case, and these will also be drawn from your professor's funding.



Discuss with your boss to determine if they are willing to opt for premium processing, as it incurs an extra cost of $2,805. University policies vary—some cover H4 dependents' fees, while others may request H1B holders to pay for their dependents. Please check with your employer for clarification.


Please note that I am not an attorney; I am sharing my journey to assist readers. Ensure thorough discussions with your employer well in advance and have all necessary documents prepared. Feel free to drop any questions in the comment section, and I'll do my best to provide answers.



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6 Comments


bapi bera
bapi bera
May 04, 2023

Hi Hina,

Thank you so much for sharing the information.

Can you please suggest some agency or site where I can do the credentials evaluation (PhD degree)?

Thank you again!


Regards,

Bapi


Like
bapi bera
bapi bera
May 05, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much!

Like

gaurishishodia
gaurishishodia
Feb 09, 2023

Hi Hina,

I have a question regarding H4 visa petition. Can H4 application be self petitioned or only university/lawyer can file H4?

Thanks

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gaurishishodia
gaurishishodia
Feb 16, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Hina.

Like

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