You May be Able to Extend Your J-1 Visa or Request a Change of Status
If you are currently in the U.S. on a J-1 visa, circumstances might arise that necessitate extending your visa. You should pay close attention to the length of time your visa currently allows you to be in the U.S. so that you do not fail to leave in a timely manner. If you do not leave the U.S. on time according to your visa, you will be “out of status,” and U.S. immigration law will result in your visa becoming automatically voided. Once you are out of status and your visa is voided, you will not be able to use it for a future entry to the U.S., and you could be ineligible for a visa later on. As such, it is critical to go through the formal process of extending your stay in the U.S. if you have reason to remain here for a longer period of time. A Nashville immigration attorney at our firm can assist you.
Purposes of a J-1 Visa
Who gets a J-1 visa, and who may need to extend it? This is a type of “exchange visitor” nonimmigrant visa, and it is designed for people who have been approved to participate in an exchange visitor program within the United States. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a J-1 classification “is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.”
How to Extend a J-1 Visa
J-1 visas are designed for a wide variety of exchange visitors in the U.S., including professors and researchers, students, and au pairs. There are many different reasons a person with a J-1 visa might want to extend their stay. What steps do you need to take? First, you will need to determine the maximum regulatory duration of the visa, which means the time limit set by the category of program for which you obtained a J-1 visa or the time limit set by the program itself. Next, a new Form DS-2019 will need to be issued that shows the extended timeline for the visa. Once you have a new Form DS-2019, it will be at the discretion of the USCIS officer to extend the visa up to the maximum time limit.
In some instances, if you have extraordinary circumstances, you could be permitted to extend a J-1 visa beyond the maximum program duration, but you will need to get the extension approved by the U.S. Department of State.
Requesting a Change of Status
If you want to extend your J-1 visa because your plans have changed since you have been in the United States, you may need to seek a change of status in order to remain. For instance, if you have gotten a permanent job offer from a U.S. employer, or if you have gotten engaged to a U.S. citizen you met while living in the U.S., you will likely need to change your nonimmigrant status. A change of status is not an extension of your J-1 visa, but you will not need to apply for a separate visa when you are requesting a change of status.
Contact Our Nashville Immigration Lawyers
If you have questions about extending an existing J-1 visa or requesting a change of status, one of the experienced Nashville immigration attorneys at our firm can assist you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about extending a J-1 visa or addressing other immigration matters. Contact Ozment Law, PLC today.