J1 to F1 & 2 Year Residency Requirement

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J1 Visa to F1 Visa transfer – Will there be any issues due to 2 year Visa Foreign Residency Requirements?

Question 

Hi,I am a final year xxxx Engg. student at IIT Bombay. I have a query about J1 and F1 visas. I plan to go to US in March 2009 for 3 months working on a project in xxxxxx Univ at xxxxx. This project and my stay is going to be funded by an international collaboration. So I would have to apply for a J1 Visa to go in March. Also, I have applied to US Schools for admission to PhD program in Fall 2009. So if given admission, I would apply for an F1 Visa to go to US in Fall 2009.

Now would the fact that I had got a J1 Visa earlier, hamper my chances at getting an F1 Visa? I heard that there is some rule by which once you get a J1 Visa, you can’t go back to US for the next 2 years. Please solve this query of mine.

I have edited the name of the university due to privacy reasons. I received above question by email. So, I did some digging this is what I found

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement

An exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:

  • The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the United States government or the government of the exchange visitor’s nationality or last residence;
  • The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (Exchange Visitor Skills List 9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II);
  • The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two-years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers can be obtained under five separate bases: No Objection Statement, Exceptional Hardship or Persecution, Conrad Program, or Interested Government Agency. ( Source )

Its my understanding, J1 to F1 shouldn’t be a concern. If you are still not clear, consult with an Immigration Attorney. Alos, I have heard its easy to apply for Change of status from J1 to F1 while you are in U.S. ITs worth exploring that option too.

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