J-1 Scholar: Departure from Penn State

It is important that International J-1 Scholar Advising be notified of your departure from Penn State so that your DS-2019 reflects an accurate program end date and your record is completed properly.  

As a J-1 scholar, you have a 30-day grace period at the end of your program and have up to 30 days after your program end date to depart the United States.  

J-1 Program Ending at Originally Planned Time  

  1. Login to iStart and fill out the Departure Notice under J-1 Scholar Services.  
  2. List your Departmental Contact (usually the staff assistant or coordinator in your department) so the form can be routed to that person for review.  
  3. J-1 Scholar Advising will review your request and make sure your DS-2019 reflects the proper end date.  

J-1 Program Ending Early  

If you will be leaving Penn State more than 15 days prior to the program end date listed on your most recent DS-2019, follow the instructions below:  

  1. Login to iStart and fill out the Departure Notice under J-1 Scholar Services. 
  2. List your Departmental Contact (usually the staff assistant or coordinator in your department) so the form can be routed to that person for review.  
  3. J-1 Scholar Advising will review your request and shorten your DS-2019 to reflect the new program end date.  

J-1 Program Transfer Out 

If you wish to transfer your J-1 sponsorship to another university to continue your program with the same objective and in the same category, follow the instructions below:  

  1. Login to iStart and fill out the Transfer Out form under J-1 Scholar Services. 
  2. Be sure to list accurate information for the new institution on this form as it will be used to coordinate your transfer.   
  3. J-1 Scholar Advising will review your request and coordinate the transfer of your J-1 program with the new institution.  


IMPORTANT:  If you are subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement or you have waived the requirement, be sure to discuss your options with J-1 Scholar Advising, especially if your J-1 program requires an extension as part of the transfer.  

Change of Status  

There are two (2) ways to change your status:

  1. Leave the U.S. and apply for the appropriate visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, and re-enter the U.S. in that new visa status; or
  2. Apply for a change of status with USCIS (unless your current status prohibits a change). In most cases, we recommend exiting the U.S. and attempting to re-enter under a new program due to delays often incurred with waiting for a change while in the United States.

   
You cannot change your status within the United States if you:  

  • entered the U.S. under the Visa-Waiver Pilot Program (ESTA) in WT or WB status  
  • are currently in J-1 or J-2 status, and you are subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement 
  • are currently in B-1 or B-2 (visitor) status and it appears that you entered the U.S. to participate in exchange visitor activity  

  
Examples of Possible Changes  

Current Status Desired Status Considerations
J-1 Another nonimmigrant status (ex. F-1) 
  • Procedures vary depending on category being sought.

  • Travel to your home country to request your J-1 Visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, or 

  • Apply to USCIS for a change of status 

  • Not eligible if subject to 2-Year Home Residency Requirement  

Another nonimmigrant status  J-1 Status
  • Travel to your home country to request your J-1 Visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, or 

  • Apply to USCIS for a change of status 

J-1 H-1B
  • Discretion of the Penn State host department and International Faculty Advising.

  • Contact the department first to discuss available visa options within your department 

J-1 Category J-1 Other Category
  • Not possible without the permission of the U.S. Department of State   

  • Considered “change of category,” not “change of status”  

  • The only category change permitted, without prior approval from USCIS or without travel outside of the U.S., is a change from Research Scholar to Professor or the reverse. These activities are so similar this is not considered a change of program objective. 


Considerations for seeking a new status:

  • A change of status application to USCIS may require five (5) months or more.  
  • You may not change your activity in the U.S. until the change has been approved. 
  • All benefits attached to the status being requested, including employment eligibility, do not apply until the change has been approved.  
  • Contact J-1 Scholar Advising for detailed information on your particular change of status request.
  • If an Exchange Visitor is Outside the U.S.  
    • In most cases, no minimum time abroad is required to obtain a different visa unless the exchange visitor is subject to the Two-Year Home-Residency Requirement and is applying for H-1B, L, or Permanent Resident status.   
    • There are still risks of being refused a visa or re-entry to the United States.  

General requirements for change of status (contact J-1 Scholar Advising for more details):  

  • Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • Correct I-539 Fee  
  • Copies of DS-2019 Form(s) for J-1 Exchange Visitor and dependents  
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt  
  • Copies of financial support documents  
  • Photocopies of I-94 and any other documents establishing current maintenance of nonimmigrant status  
  • Copies of passports and visas