Changing status from a J-1 to F-1 without leaving the U.S. or staying outside of the U.S. for two years before applying with USCIS may require the help of an immigration lawyer. If you intend to further your studies as a full-time academic student then you will be allowed to change your status to an F-1 student visa.
Demonstrate Financial Eligibility and Plans to Return To One’s Home Country
To be able to make the switch in immigration status one of the most important requirements is to provide evidence owning liquid assets enough to pay for one full year of expenses. Also, if the J-1 recipient intends to change status to an F-1, they must be able to cover expenses for his or her dependents which includes, spouse and children. Additionally, the academic institution will be able to provide the estimates for an academic year. Speak with an immigration attorney to find out more about the financial requirements of an F-1 student visa.
As an F-1 Visa applicant, proof must be provided that there are intentions to return to one's own home country upon completion of the academic program. This specific requirement is quite common in all if not most nonimmigrant temporary visas. Though it can be challenging for students who might not have a job or home awaiting them in their home country, some choose to overstay and wind up facing the consequences.
Facing the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
Several J-1 visa beneficiaries are subject to what is known as the two-year home country physical presence requirement. This requirement orders recipients of J-1 visas to stay in their home countries for two years before they can return to the U.S.
The good news is that J-1 holders who are subject to the two-year residency requirement are still eligible to change their status to an F-1 student. But this does not mean that such a requirement will go away altogether. It will need to be completed at a later time granted that the change of status is successful and if the applicant wants a different visa classification or status. If anyone is subject to this requirement and would like to waive their status, ask an immigration lawyer for help.
Submitting a Change of Status Application with USCIS
Once the academic institution that accepts you as a student, they should issue you a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, you can then apply for an F-1 status. You then have a choice to either travel home and apply for the F-1 visa from a local U.S. consulate or by submitting a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Seek Advice from an Immigration Attorney