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What should I do regarding to my change of status? (J-1 to F-1)

New Rochelle, NY |

Is it ok to exchange my J-1 status to F-1 status by applying to an ESL (English as a Second Language) college and in the middle of the process I want to apply for a 4 year degree college? I am an au pair and my J-1 expires in March, I will try to change my status to student by applying for an ESL 3 month course, but in May I'm planning to get an I-20 form in a college to earn a bachelor degree. Basically Im only applying to an ESL school to maintain my legal status here, since there's a 2 month gap between my J-1 due date and May, when is time to apply for a exchange of status and become a student in a 4 year college. If my change of status is still in process of approving for the ESL 3 month classes, am I allowed to file another I20 for a 4 year college while my first I20 is in process?

I am not considering to come back to my home country to try to get the visa because I am afraid of being denied. I rather try to exchange my status here and earn my degree, then come back to my country. I am aware of the fact that I am not going to be able to re enter the US if I leave it while I have my student status.

Attorney Answers 3


You have to file the change of status to an F-1 BEFORE the expiration (or before you fall out of) J-1 status. The program for your F-1, in this case the ESL program, should start before the expiration of your J-1 status. Then you have to continuously maintain your F-1 by getting an I-20 with any succeeding school or program you attend. It was not in your question but are you subject to the 2 year foreign residency requirement?

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Thank you for your response, Mr. Sarmiento. No, I am not subject to this requirement, I am Brazilian and my J-1 visa on my passport says "Bearer is not subject to 212(E). Two year rule does not apply (Brazil). I understand I need to file the change of status before the expiration, what I'd like to find out is the possibility of applying for a 4 year college by obtaining an I-20 while I am still waiting for an answer regarding to the change of status to F-1 through an ESL college. I am supposing that I need to hear back from USCIS with the positive result of the exchange of status, then start studying at the ESL school, and after starting my classes, I can get a new I-20 in a college and start a new process again? Thank you.


If you are subject to the 2 year foreign requirement on the J-1 you should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure this wont raise any issues at the time of doind the proposed change of status.

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I agree that you should consult with an immigration attorney.

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