Switching from a J2 Visa to an H1B Visa in the US: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are currently on a J2 visa in the US and would like to switch to an H1B visa, there are several steps you need to take to ensure a smooth transition. This guide covers everything you need to know about the process of switching from a J2 visa to an H1B visa, including documents required, timelines, fees, and other relevant information that will guide you towards a successful application.

Key Takeaways

  • Switching from a J2 visa to an H1B visa requires careful planning and preparation.
  • Applicants should make sure they meet the eligibility requirements for an H1B visa and gather all required documents before applying.
  • The H1B visa application process can take several months, so applicants should plan accordingly and be patient.
  • Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help make the process smoother and increase the chances of approval.

Eligibility Requirements for an H1B Visa

Before applying for an H1B visa, it is important to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. The following are some of the key requirements for an H1B visa:

  • The applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher or equivalent work experience.
  • The job for which the applicant is being hired must be a specialty occupation, meaning it requires specialized knowledge and a specific educational or work background.
  • The employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certifying that they will pay the applicant at least the prevailing wage for the position and that hiring the applicant will not adversely affect the working conditions of other US workers.
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Documents Required for an H1B Visa Application

To apply for an H1B visa, you will need to gather several documents, including:

  • Passport: A valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining.
  • H1B Visa Petition: The employer must file a Form I-129 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the employee.
  • Labor Condition Application: The employer must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor.
  • Education and Work Experience: The applicant must provide evidence of their education and work experience.
  • Specialty Occupation: The employer must provide evidence that the position they are hiring for is a specialty occupation.
  • Sponsorship Letter: A letter from your employer certifying that they will employ you for the duration of your stay, and that they will pay you at least the prevailing wage for your position.
  • USCIS Form I-94: An Arrival/Departure Record that shows the date of your last arrival in the US.

Timeline for Switching from a J2 Visa to an H1B Visa

The timeline for switching from a J2 visa to an H1B visa can vary depending on various factors, such as the time of year, the complexity of the case, and whether you are applying for a visa for the first time or renewing an existing visa. Here is a general timeline for the H1B visa application process:

  1. January 1 – Beginning of the fiscal year for the USCIS. Employers can start preparing to submit H1B applications beginning April 1.
  2. April 1 – Employers can begin submitting H1B applications to the USCIS. This is typically a very busy time, so it’s important to submit your application as early as possible.
  3. May 1 – Deadline for employers to submit H1B applications to the USCIS.
  4. June 1 – Employers will begin to receive notification of approval or denial of their H1B applications.
  5. October 1 – Beginning of the fiscal year for the H1B visa. If your application was successful, you can begin working on this date.
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Fees for Switching from a J2 Visa to an H1B Visa

There are several fees associated with the H1B visa application process, including:

  • Filing fee: $460
  • Anti-fraud fee: $500
  • Public Law fee: $4,000 (for companies with 50 or more employees, with more than half of those employees in the US)
  • Premium processing fee: $1,440 (optional, but can speed up the process)

Working with an Immigration Attorney

Switching from a J2 visa to an H1B visa can be a complex process, so it’s a good idea to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help increase your chances of approval. An attorney can also help you gather all required documentation and ensure that your application is filed correctly and on time.


  1. Can I work on a J2 visa while applying for an H1B visa?
    • Yes, you can work on a J2 visa while you apply for an H1B visa. However, you cannot begin working on the H1B until it is approved.
  2. Can I switch employers on an H1B visa?
    • Yes, you can switch employers on an H1B visa. However, you will need to apply for a new H1B visa with your new employer.
  3. How long can I stay on an H1B visa?
    • You can stay on an H1B visa for up to six years, with the option to apply for an extension. After that, you must leave the US for at least one year before reapplying for an H1B visa.
  4. Can my dependents (spouse and children) come with me on an H1B visa?
    • Yes, your dependents can come with you on an H4 visa. They will not be able to work in the US, but they can attend school.
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About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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