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OPT transfer to J-1 & NIW application

Published Dec 2,2021 By Ming


First I want to say it’s wonderful to fine this website.

I am originally come from China, currently doing postdoc. This is my last year of OPT extension, which will ends August 2022. I am planning to apply NIW early next year, and Eb1a later if possible.

A complicated part for my current situation is that I was just informed that the department will only switch me to J-1 visa even my P.I. agreed for H1B. And it seems like that it will take about 9-12 month for J-1 to be approved if I transfer visa inside the US. So, I was wondering

1, if J-1 has not been approved but my opt ends, can I stay in US, or I have to leave?

2, How long can I apply J-1 wavier after it is approved?

3, Can I apply NIW before got J-1 wavier? What will affect the application if J-1 has not been waived?

4, Can I apply NIW and J-1 at the same time?

5, If I cannot go back to China to apply J-1 (currently very hard because of COVID), what do you think it’s the best way to manage it?

Thanks a lot!



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2 years ago

Hi Ming,

1) If your status expires, you cannot stay in the U.S.
2) Not sure if I understood this question, could you elaborate?
3) You can file I-140 without J1 waiver. However, you will need the waiver to file I-485.
4) You should not apply for NIW and J1 simultaneously as this may create a conflict of intents (immigrant vs nonimmigrant)
5) Even if your I-140 is approved (may take several months), you may likely have to wait 3 years before filing I-485, see the visa bulletin,
In the meantime, you have to maintain your status in the U.S. in order to stay here legally. I think the best course of action is to explain to your department and your PI that they need to figure a solution, if they want you to work for them.

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