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J1 visa to H1B: How to do Change of Status for Postdoc

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

J1 exchange visitor scholars may hold the J1 visa status for a maximum period of 5 years. If you work in the academy and your J1 visa is about to end soon and you wish to remain in the US after the completion of your J1 visa then you have to file a change of status before your J1 visa ends.

J1 to H1B without Waiver?

J1 exchange visitors must have one of these before they apply for H1B

  • Need to obtain a waiver from the US Department of State i.e. I-612 approval notice from USCIS.

  • J1 exchange visitors have fulfilled the two-year home residency requirement

Academic H1B v/s Industrial H1B
  • Academic H1B is cap exempt from the annual quota which will apply to private employers

  • Academic H1B is not a part of a regular lottery like industry H1B

  • Academic H1B can be filed anytime in a year, unlike industry H1B

J1 to H1B for Postdoc

You must need to talk to your boss and International office way in advance to see if they are willing to sponsor you an H1B. If they are okay with it, then the H1B petition must be submitted at least 6 months before your J1 program ends to avoid the interruption in your work visa.

Related post: Indian Passport Renewal

J1 Visa to H1B Change of Status Process

The steps may vary for different universities but the general criteria will be the same. Universities/institutes' international offices may ask you to submit the following documents or you have to upload these documents international's office's online system.

  • Copy 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

  • Copy of passport pages and visa

  • DS-2019 (if on J1 visa)

  • Waiver approval notice (I-612)

  • Last 6 months pay-stubs

J2 to H4 Visa (If applying for H4-dependents)

If someone has dependents they can file for H4 along with the H1B petition or file H4 after the approval of H1B, it's a personal choice. In any case, you need to provide the following documents for H4.

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

  • Birth certificate (for the child, if any)

  • Copy 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 of 370$ (please keep checking the USCIS website for any updates)

Once you submit all the documents to your university's international office. They will prepare LCA (Labor Condition Agreement) for you. The "Department of Labour" must certify it before your H1B petition is processed. Your employer will do all this on your behalf and it may take them a month or two.

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

Related post: Do I need a lawyer to file a J1 waiver?

J1 to H1B Processing Time

In case you have opted for H1B premium processing then you should hear back from USCIS within 15 days or if you have opted for normal processing then it can take 4-8 months, sometimes more, the USCIS timeline varies.

Who will Pay the J1 to H1B Transfer Fees

Your university should pay all the fees and in the end, it will come out of your professor's funding, as per my knowledge. Behind the scenes, there will be some additional changes applied by the International Office to prepare your case and this will also come out of your professor's funding.

You can talk to your boss to see if they are fine doing premium processing for you since it will cost 2500$ extra. Universities' rules are different some might pay for H4 dependents others may ask H1B holders to pay for the dependents. Please check with your employer.

Please keep in mind that I am not an attorney I am only sharing my journey which might help the reader. Be sure to discuss everything with your employer way in advance and have all documents prepared. Please drop your questions in the comment section and I will try my best to answer.

Next: J1 to Green Card

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