J-1 to F-1 Visa: How A Ugandan Student Pursued Her Education In The U.S.


Our client approached us with a unique situation involving their Rotary Clubs exchange student. Miremba, an 18 year-old from Uganda currently in the U.S. on a J-1 visa. The Rotary Club members wanted Miremba to finish her high school education and potentially go to the college in the United States. Miremba had a passion for business, and wanted to open her own marketing firm one day.

As she was currently on a J-1 visa, it was a little tricky. J-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas issued to foreign nationals intending to participate in an approved exchange visitor program in the United States. As a member of the Rotary Club, Miremba was working on various humanitarian services within the state of Oregon. Typically, some J-1 visa holders must return to their home countries upon the completion of their programs. When applying for a J-1 visa, it is essential that you actually provide evidence of ties to your home country and show the intent that you won’t abandon your country or overstay your visa after completing the program in the U.S.

With Miremba’s J-1 visa, it’s important to note that she was not subject to the J-1 two year home country physical presence requirement. This rule mandates these holders to return to their home country for two years before they can re-enter the U.S.

The Case

Given Miremba’s situation and her educational goals, our team advised her to switch to an F-1 visa (Student visa) through a processed called a “Change of Status.” Miremba promptly started applying for Student and Exchange Visitor Program approved institutions, and within 3 weeks got accepted into one institution. We believed that furthering Miremba’s education in the U.S. would equip her with the necessary skills and knowledge before returning home to Uganada.

In her J-1 change to F-1 visa filing, we included Miremba’s biographical data, I-907 form, I-539 form, original DS-2019 forms, SEVIS-901 payment receipts, I-20 form, I-94 form, signed I-342 form, sponsor’s passport and financial records as evidence of financial means to support the applicant.

It was critical we demonstrated that Miremba’s sponsor had the financial means to support her, as USCIS does not want to see the applicant become a financial burden or public charge on the U.S. government. Under an F-1 visa, it is prohibited for a student to seek unauthorized employment to support themselves under the current regulations, making it essential to prove that Miremba has sufficient funds to financial sustain herself during her studies.

The timing of filing was critical. We had to ensure that Miremba maintained her J-1 visa status during the processing for her F-1 visa. By filing well in advance, we had enough time for her application to be processed while ensuring her J-1 status remained valid.

  • Verdict: Approved in 4 Days!

    As we had filed under premium processing, our client’s case was approved within 4 business days. We filed on May 23rd and had a decision by May 29th. Typically change of status applicants will have to wait around 6 to 12 months to hear a decision, or it’s filed under premium processing, they will hear about 30 days. By submitting a detailed filing, we were able to have this change of status approved in no time.

How We Can Help:

This successful J-1 change to F-1 visa showcases our team’s efforts in strategic planning to present before USCIS. We left no room for a denial, and our client’s case underscores our commitment to delivering exceptional results and helping our client’s achieve their educational goals. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to get started on your change of status today.

*The names have been changed in order to maintain attorney-client confidentiality.