(Note to students wishing to change to J-1 student status: this page does not apply to you. Rutgers almost never encounters cases where an individual needs to change to J-1 student status from another nonimmigrant status in the U.S. If this is your intention, please contact the Center for International Faculty and Student Services (CIFSS) and arrange to meet with a CIFSS adviser).
Professors, Researchers and Visiting Scholars: Changing to J-1 or H-1B Status
Professors, researchers and visiting scholars planning to change to Rutgers' J-1 or H-1B visa sponsorship should have their sponsoring department at Rutgers contact the Center for International Faculty & Student Services (CIFSS) directly, since CIFSS must evaluate each case before moving forward, and since all paperwork must in any case be initiated by the department at Rutgers. CIFSS staff cannot advise prospective J-1 or H-1B nonimmigrants directly unless the sponsoring department has been in touch with CIFSS first.
Changing Status by Leaving the U.S. vs. Changing Status Within the U.S.
Most individuals wishing to change from another nonimmigrant status to J-1 or H-1B may either change their status within the U.S. or leave the U.S. and obtain a visa in the desired classification at a U.S. consulate abroad, and then re-enter in the new status; in some cases, however, leaving the U.S. may be a necessary step in the procedure.
If visitors choose to leave the U.S. and then re-enter in J-1 or H-1B status, CIFSS will process the immigration paperwork requested by the sponsoring department that will enable the visitor to apply for a J-1 or H-1B visa abroad. Visitors will not be eligible to work under the new J-1 or H-1B status until after they have re-entered the U.S. in the new status and the start date on the visa document (DS-2019 for J-1s; I-797 for H-1Bs) is current.
If visitors choose to change status within the U.S., they will not be eligible to work until the change of status has been approved in writing by the USCIS (unless they already hold valid work authorization based upon their current status, e.g., if they have a valid employment authorization document based upon F-1 Optional Practical Training). As long as an application for change of status has been received by USCIS prior to the end date of the applicant's current nonimmigrant status, however, the applicant and any visa dependents are legally eligible to remain inside the U.S. while the change of status application is pending. Applications for change of status within the U.S. can take several months to be adjudicated by USCIS. Such requests should therefore be made well in advance of the intended start date of the new status.
Please note: a change of status within the U.S. does not confer a new entry visa in the new classification. Thus, for example, an individual who has changed from F-1 to J-1 status within the U.S. may remain in the U.S. in the new J-1 status throughout the period of approval, but the next time he/she travels abroad and plans to reenter in J-1 status, he/she will have to apply for a J-1 entry visa at a U.S. consulate abroad before being able to return to the U.S. to resume J-1 status.
- Changing Status to J-1 Within the U.S.
If changing to J-1 status within the U.S., visitors should contact their sponsoring department at Rutgers, which must submit all necessary J-1 request paperwork to CIFSS. Departments can arrange for visitors to have an appointment with a CIFSS Adviser if a visitor wishes to discuss his or her particular case and the steps involved in the process.
The applicant for a change to J-1 status will receive an approval notice (Form I-797) directly from USCIS. Authorization to work under the terms of the new J-1 status will begin on the start date of the DS-2019 or on the "notice date" listed on the I-797, whichever comes LATER.
- Changing Status to H-1B Within the U.S.
If changing to H-1B status within the U.S., visitors should communicate directly with their sponsoring department at Rutgers, since the department must submit all necessary paperwork to CIFSS. CIFSS will then file the H-1B petition with USCIS on behalf of both the department and the visitor.
With an application to change to H-1B status, the I-797 approval notice will be received by CIFSS rather than by the applicant, and authorization to work under the terms of the new H-1B status will begin on the start date noted on the I-797. This will be a date on or after the start date requested by Rutgers on its H-1B petition, depending on whether USCIS adjudicated the change of status on a date before or after Rutgers' requested start date.
Note to visitors who will be changing from J-1 to H-1B status and who are subject to the 2-year home residency requirement (212e notation on visa): in order for Rutgers to submit an H-1B petition on your behalf, you will need to have in your possession either a waiver of the 2-year requirement from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) or a copy of a letter from the U.S. Department of State to USCIS recommending a waiver of the requirement.