Are you a J-1 visa holder who needs to change your J-1 employer or sponsor? Are you afraid you’ll lose your status if you switch to another employer/ institution? Read on to find out how you can keep your J-1 status and advance your career.
If you are a J-1 visa holder you are likely visiting the United States to participate in an exchange visitor program. Some of the visitor categories include student (college/ university), government visitor, physician, professor, and/or specialist in your respective field. To obtain the J-1 visa, you must have a sponsoring agency that will assist you through the application process and will ultimately employ you/ be responsible for you while you reside in the US.
Changing J-1 Agencies
Good news! You can change your J-1 sponsoring agency or employer without losing your status. There are no restrictions on how many times you can change sponsors, however, changing sponsors is only possible if:
• Your new position is in the same field/ category as was intended on your original J-1 application (ie. student to student, not physician to professor);
• And your original sponsor allows the transfer.
To initiate the transfer process you must request a transfer from your original sponsor and allow your new sponsor to begin the transfer process by issuing a new DS-2019. In addition to a new application, you and/ or your employer must provide an explanation that justifies your transfer. Depending on the agency that is sponsoring you, you must also complete the appropriate J-1 transfer forms provided by your institution.
Another factor to note is that while the transfer is being processed, there must always be a continuity of employment. For example, if your tentative start date (for your new place of employment) is January 22, your last day of employment for your previous sponsoring agency must be January 21 to prevent a gap in your employment. Just remember that even if you transfer, your J-1 will remain valid only for the remaining time of your visa validity period.
The bottom line: You can change your J-1 sponsor while on the J-1 visa. As long as you are moving within the category you applied for in your original J-1 visa application and can provide a justifiable rationale for transferring, it is possible to change J-1 agencies. If you have reasons to want to change your current J-1 sponsor or employer, you can pursue a change!
Why you should hire an Immigration Attorney
Navigating through the J-1 visa transfer process can be challenging to do on your own. An immigration attorney can walk you through the entire process and ensure that your application is completed completely, on time, and without errors. If you would like to learn more about changing J-1 agencies, contact us for an assessment or consultation.