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Old 05-29-2010, 10:34 AM
BimmerFAn BimmerFAn is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 14
BimmerFAn will become famous soon enough
Default J-2 to H1-B Change of Status (It's possible)

I am posting this so that others may benefit from my experience and also not repeat the same mistakes that I made.

I originally came to the United States when I was 9 years old in 1996 as a J-2 Dependent. I finished my grammar school, high school and college here. I started working on OPT and tried to figure out a way to get an H1-B visa since I knew that I was subject to Sections 212(e) – 2 year home residency requirement, which prohibited me from obtaining H or L status or pursuing permanent residency.
It was only after I consulted with a top tier immigration attorney that I found out that in certain circumstances J-2 dependents can apply for a waiver separately of the J-1 principal. The waiver for a J-2 dependent falls under the same procedures as an Interested Government Agency (IGA) waiver, except that if selected for a waiver, the Department of State will act as the IGA on your behalf. The attorney told me that the process to obtain a waiver could take anywhere from 3 months to a year, with 6 months being the projected average.

To apply for the waiver I had to send the DOS mine and my family’s visa history, complete photocopy of my passport, translated copy of my birth certificate, a printed copy of the application I had to fill out online through the DOS website, and a statement of reason (SoR). The SoR is the most important document since it gives you a chance to persuade the Waiver Review Board that you should be allowed to remain in the United States. Basically, since I came here when I was very young, I wrote about my academic, charitable and professional contribution to American society over my 14 years here. I mentioned that I had no ties to my former home country and was financially independent from my parents. I also wrote about how my career as a CPA benefits US companies and US economy, and how US financial reporting standards are vastly different that those of my home country etc. Moreover, I submitted other materials supporting my SoR such as my academic transcripts, employment offer letter, paystubs, CPA license, letter supporting my involvement with various charities, and a letter from the J-1 principal explaining their program and my relationship to them.

The Department of State recommended me for a waiver in just 2 business days after they received my documentation. The USCIS approved the waiver a week after receipt. The attorney submitted an H1-B petition for change of status (premium processing) as soon as the DOS sent the Favorable Recommendation to the USCIS. In most cases, to apply for an AOS all you need is a copy of the favorable recommendation the USCIS will adjudicate both simultaneously under premium processing. The USCIS took 14 nerve racking days to process it, but ultimately they approved the petition.

Overall, the process to waive the 2 year HRR and obtain an H1-B visa took me only 1 month and I count myself very lucky. I wish I had acted on it sooner, but before speaking to the attorney’s I had no idea a waiver was even an option and could only think of nightmarish scenarios. I will monitor my post in order to answer any questions you may have. I would want nothing more than for others to learn and benefit from my experience and save themselves the agonizing stress that I went through.

Please find the complete timeline for my process below. From speaking with my attorney I heard that my timeline is rather extraordinary so please do not think that all processing times are exactly the same.

Applied for a Waiver with the DOS: 4/22/10
Received by DOS: 4/30/2010
Response: Favorable Recommendation 05/04/2010
Received by the USCIS @ VSC: 05/07/2010
Waiver Approved by USCIS: 05/15/2010
H1-B Filed under PP with the USCIS: 05/07/10
H1-B Received by the USCIS: 05/11/10
Decision: H1-B Approved 05/25/10
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