If you are truly not subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, you should be able to change your status.
Note that annotations on J-1 visa stamps and DS-2019s are frequently incorrect and not legally binding. Therefore, if your visa stamp and DS-2019 indicate that you are not subject, you still may be subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement.
There are three ways one can become subject to the requirement. These are: (1) government funding (U.S. government funding and foreign government funding); (2) home country skills list; and (3) participation in graduate medical education.
I just saw a case where the exchange visitor came on a similar program as you describe (1 year hospitality). This individual’s visa stamp and DS-2019 indicated that the person was not subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement. This person applied for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. The USCIS found that this person was subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement based on the skills list.
The annotations on J-1 visa stamps and DS-2019s are just a consular officer’s opinion on whether someone is subject. Many times, such an officer has little to no knowledge of whether and why someone is subject to the requirement.
And of course, if you are subject to the requirement, you cannot change status unless and until you obtain a waiver or fulfill the foreign residence requirement.
For these reasons, I suggest you consult with a lawyer with specific experience in J-1 matters.
Hake & Schmitt
Attorneys at Law
P.O. Box 540 (419 Main St.), New Windsor, Maryland 21776
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