Adjusting Status as a student on an F1 or J1 visa

Students who travel to the United States on an F1 or J1 visa to study, often times fall in love with somebody they meet while in school. These relationships sometimes evolve into marriages. Fortunately, and in the vast majority of cases, US Immigration law allows the foreign student to adjust status and become a US Legal Permanent Resident and stay in the United States. The complicity of the process depends on whether the married student’s visa is an F1 or J1 with a 2 year foreign residency restriction.
For the married students here on an F1 visa, the process is fairly straight forward. After getting married, the couple first need to file an I-130 Petition for Alien Spouse and an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The same process is used for married students on a J1 visa without the two year foreign residency restriction. In some cases, a J1 visa will be issued, but with a two residency restriction. This means that at the expiration of the students class work and possible subsequent occupational training, unless a waiver is granted, the student has to return home to their country of origin for two years before they can apply for an adjustment of status and become a US legal permanent resident as the spouse of a US citizen. In those cases where the married student is here on a J1 with a two year foreign residency restriction, the process of obtaining a waiver to avoid having to return home for two years can be difficult.

Their are five statutory bases where a J1 visa holder may be able to waive the two year residency requirement:

  • No Objection letter
  • Interested Government Agency Request
  • Threat of persecution
  • Extreme Hardship
  • Designated State Health Agency Request (for doctors only)
You are welcome to call me anytime at 1-888-515-3529 to discuss your situation and marriage plans. Hopefully, you are here on an F1 visa or a J1 visa without restriction.  If you are subject to the 2 year residency requirement, then we can discuss the possibility of obtaining a waiver for you so you can stay and adjust your status as a married student to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident.
Attorney Jeffrey C Pettys
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