I Am in J-1 Status, May I Change to O-1 Visa?

Dr. William:

Q: I am in J-1 status subject to the two year home country residence requirement, and it is now impossible for me to obtain a waiver of the 2-year home country service requirement. May I apply for O-1 status in U.S. to continue my research project, instead of going back to my home country?


As a J-1 holder, you can change to O-1 visa, but you have to apply for an O-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad, because you may not change to a non-immigrant status in the U.S. before you satisfy the two years home country residence requirement or obtain a waiver to the requirement. 

Your employer needs to file an O-1 petition to the USCIS. Once the O-1 petition is approved, you need to apply for O-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. After you obtain an O-1 visa, you can enter the U.S. without fulfilling the two-year residency requirement or getting a waiver of the requirement. 







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