If you wish to stay in the United States beyond the duration of your J-1 visa program, you need to apply for a change of status and receive approval of USCIS.
According to USCIS, you may apply to change your status in the United States if:
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant;
- You have not committed any act that would make you ineligible to receive an immigration benefit;
- There are no other factors that require you to depart the United States prior to making a re-entry based on a different classification (for example, a USCIS officer may determine that you should obtain a new visa prior to being readmitted into the United States);
- You submit an application for a change of status before the expiration date on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. (However, there are certain circumstances under which USCIS may excuse a late submission.)
- Your passport is valid for your entire requested period of stay in the new nonimmigrant classification in the United States.
Please note that you are not eligible to change your status if you are a J-1 Exchange Visitor subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement. However, you may be able to obtain a J-1 visa waiver and remain in the United States.
USCIS recommends that you apply as soon as you determine that you need to change your status to a different nonimmigrant category. Until you receive approval from USCIS, you should not assume that your new status has been approved, and you should not change your activities in the United States.
If you fail to maintain your nonimmigrant status, you may be deported from the United States and/or barred from entering the United States in the future. If you are already out of status, USCIS cannot change your status unless you can prove that you have fallen out of status due to certain limited circumstances beyond your control.