J-1 immigration status was created to encourage cultural exchange between the United States and other countries of the world. An individual in the United States with J-1 status has been sponsored by a university, government, or private sector program to participate in some form of cultural exchange, such as a student studying in an MBA program, a physician working in a hospital, a counselor working at a summer camp, or a research professional, among many other programs.
Individuals with J-1 status are invited to stay in the country until the end of their program, which can span several years. At that time, they have a 30 day grace period to make arrangements to leave the United States and return to their home country. With a few exceptions, most individuals who would like to change to a nonimmigrant status must return to their home counties for two years before requesting a change in status.
One example of an exception to this rule is a physician being offered a full time job in an area with a shortage of qualified medical professionals. In an instance such as this, the two year period of time may be waived to allow the physician to change to a nonimmigrant status and remain in the country on a permanent basis.
Anyone who is facing immigration issues in Washington State may benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney on the matter.