Changing Status


  • When you apply for a change of status, you are required to explain why you did not originally enter the U.S. in the status you are now requesting. A change of circumstances or intention should be explained fully and documented.
  • Individuals currently in J status (including J-2) who are subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement may not change status in the U.S. unless a waiver has been granted.
  • If you leave the U.S. before a decision is made on your change of status request, your application is no longer valid.

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  • Complete Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (PDF).
  • A fee of $300.00 must be included. Make check payable to “Department of Homeland Security” Note: This fee is subject to change, please check the above link for updates.
  • Include a letter from you to USCIS stating why wish to change status.
  • Send your complete application packet to:
    USCIS California Service Center
    P. O. Box 10539
    Laguna Beach, CA 92607-1053

If you want proof of mailing, we recommend using the United States Postal Service (USPS) “delivery confirmation" service. The Post Office is the only service that confirms delivery to a post office (P.O.) box address.

We recommend you keep a copy of all documents for your files.

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Alternative Method

  • You can change your visa status by leaving the U.S. and returning on a new visa.
  • You must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate Office outside the U.S.
  • We recommend applying at the local consulate in your home country.
  • Apply early, although the consulate cannot issue the visa until 90 days before the start of your program.
  • Further, you can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the program start date.

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Seeing an Adviser

You may wish to consult with an adviser to discuss your changing status options. Please call The International Center at 801-581-8876 to make an appointment with one of the ARO Officers (Alternative Responsible Officer). Please bring all the required documents with you to the appointment.

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Changing from J-1 to H-1B

Please check with the Office of General Counsel, who processes the H-1B Temporary Employment Visa. If you have a two-year home stay requirement, you cannot change to the H-1 status until you obtain a waiver or have fulfilled the home stay by residing in your home country for two years.

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