One subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement cannot change status from J-1 to another nonimmigrant visa status (except A or G visa status) in the United States, unless the person obtains a J-1 waiver. See INA 248(a)(3). That said, if you do change to J-1 status, you can get an I-20, depart the United States, and apply for an F-1 visa stamp abroad. This is called consular processing.
You will remain subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement until you obtain a waiver or fulfill the requirement. This is true even if you change back to F-1.
Being subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement creates several legal disabilities that do not go away until you obtain a waiver or fulfill the requirement. These are (one subject cannot): (1) apply for H or L visa stamps; (2) apply for a green card; and (3) apply for an immigrant visa.
I hope this helps.
Hake & Schmitt
Attorneys at Law
P.O. Box 540 (419 Main St.), New Windsor, Maryland 21776
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