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J1 to F1

To change status, students must have acceptance to a program of study.  If a student wishes to change from a J-1 visa to an F-1 student visa while remaining in U.S, you must make sure that you are not subject to Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.
In addition:
  • If a student leaves the United States while the application is pending, the change of status is automatically cancelled.

Procedures to Change Status:

1. Students must have acceptance to a program of study before starting the Change of Status application. 
2. Complete the I-539 form and pay the processing fee. The processing fee can be paid by check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security and must be mailed with the completed application. 
  • For more information, and to print the form, please visit the USCIS website:, click on “Forms”, and click on I-539.
  • Documents to be included in the application packet
    • Original I-94 card or electronic I-94 record
    • Copy of US stamped visa from the passport
    • Copy of biographical information page from the passport
    • Copies of financial support documents (these will be the same ones that were used for the I-20).
    • Copy of DS 2019
    • Letter from the student: This letter should explain why you are changing to an F-1 student visa status, should demonstrate you are staying in the US temporarily, and that you did not intend to complete your degree but only came as cultural exchange student when you were initially granted J-1 exchange student visa.
 3. Obtain an original I-20 from Jacksonville State University. 
  • This will be done after you complete steps 1 and 2.
  • You will need to bring the documents from steps 1, 2 and 3 and make an appointment with an international advisor in the Office of International House & Programs.
  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee and obtain a receipt. The I-901 SEVIS fee can be paid at:  Students must have an I-20 SEVIS number before paying the fee

Additional Points

Applicants for a change of status should be aware that it can take 6-9 months for the change of status to be approved. Applicants should also provide a current, accurate mailing address because USCIS will correspond to the student through the United States Postal Service. If there are additional documents needed for the change of status USCIS will contact the student directly, not JSU.

Those that want to change to F-1 status are not eligible for any F-1 benefit until they are approved for a change of status and the start date on the I-20 is valid.


TERMS OF THE Two Year Home Country Physical Presence REQUIREMENT

Being subject to this rule has three major effects on the exchange visitor's future U.S. immigration options. Until a subject exchange visitor either complies with or is granted a waiver of the two-year requirement, he or she:
  •  Is not eligible to obtain an H or L visa at a U.S. consulate;
  • Is not eligible for lawful permanent resident status;
  • Is not eligible to change status from J to any other nonimmigrant status from within the U.S., except to A (diplomatic) or G (employee of an International Organization) status. In most cases, USCIS will also not approve a change from J-2 to J-1 or vice versa.
Please note that an exchange visitor who is subject to this rule may still leave the U.S. and apply for a new visa category other than H or L. For example, a J-1 may leave the U.S. and apply for an F-1 visa overseas even though he/she may not change status to F-1 within the U.S. Entering the U.S. with a new visa, however, does not relieve the exchange visitor of the obligation to fulfill the two-year requirement at a later date.



If an exchange visitor subject to the rule does not wish to fulfill the requirement, he or she may be able to obtain a waiver. If the waiver is approved, it is as if the two-year requirement never existed. More detailed information is available on DOS website.

Student Issues

  • At all times, a student is responsible for maintaining his or her immigration status.

  • The above information is subject to change.

  • The above information is not an exhaustive list pertaining to change of status. 

    • For comprehensive information regarding policies, regulations, and procedures, students can visit:,, or speak with the international office.

    • At all times students are responsible for properly informing the DSO of their immigration status and academic status (as pertaining to immigration matters).

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