Hi Guillermo,I am on a J-1 visa from InterExchange, effective 5 November 2015. I entered the country on 26 November 2015. My DS-2019 became valid on 30 November 2015, and will expire 26 February 2016, the same as my visa.My employer has agreed to extend my contract with them to the maximum time a J-1 visa allows which is 12 months. The paperwork for this will be filed next week. Assuming it is approved, the new end date on my DS-2019 form will be 30 November 2016.My employer has also expressed their interest in keeping me full-time. They would like to file for an H-1B visa on 1 April 2016. My passport and DS-2019 form both state that I am not subject to section 212(e); I am not subject to the 2-year home residence requirement. This means I am legally allowed to change status in the US.InterExchange has mentioned that the J-1 visa is a cultural exchange visa and that I am "expected" to return home after my program ends so that I can apply my newfound skills and share my experiences.My employer's legal counsel believes if InterExchange found out about my intent to apply for a dual-intent visa, they could report me to the DHS, but I am not sure on what grounds. They also believe that I would need to visit the US Consulate
General in my home country in order to receive the H-1B, but I read that since I am legally allowed to change status in the US, I do not need to visit a consulate. Is there a difference between changing status and getting a visa? Would I only have to physically get my H-1B visa stamp if I decide to leave the US (so that I can re-enter at a later date), otherwise I am fine without one?Finally, when my employer e-mailed their employment lawyers, the lawyers stated that trying to change a J-1 to an H-1B can cause their law firm or my employer (I forgot which) to be blacklisted from being able to receive future J-1 interns. I have never read about this occurring and therefore have trouble believing it.I need some advice regarding the legality of changing a J-1 visa to H-1B while being present in the US on a J-1, specifically one originating from InterExchange on their "cultural exchange" where they expect me to return, and whether I am able to advise InterExchange of my interest in applying for an H-1B or if they would be able to hold it against me in any way.I would also like for you to confirm that my plan is legally possible:
- Apply for 3-month J1 (done already)
- Apply for 9-month J1 extension (in progress)
- Apply for H-1B while on a J-1
- Receive H-1B while J-1 still valid (assuming lottery success)
- J-1 expires, but H-1B is valid, so no problem
- Continue working for employer until H-1B needs to be renewedCould you also let me know if changing a J-1 to an H-1B is "frowned upon", which is what my employer's legal counsel has stated? I have seen many reports of J-1 to H-1B conversions so it's hard to see any real problem with this other than the fact that InterExchange would really like it if I returned home after my program ends.Please do your best to answer all of my questions in a detailed manner for a good rating. If there is anything additional you need from me, please let me know.