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My spouse and I are both recent PhDs. Spouse has got a post-doc position in the US and will be applying for a J1 visa. I expect to get a post-doc (also in the US) only a few months down the line.

Now, I am considering two approaches:

  • Apply for a J2 dependent visa, then apply for J1 when I get the post-doc position.
  • Use my existing, valid (multiple-entry) B1/B2 visa to travel to the US, then apply for a J1 when I get the post-doc position.

What are the pros and cons of either approach? Are there rules for 'conversion'/tranfer from from J2 to J1 or B to J1? Does either require travelling back to, and applying from the home country?

PS: Although this seems to be a Travel.SE question, I ask here because it pertains to the J visa which is specific to academia.
PS2: We're both Indian citizens.

  • 2
    It could also be an Expatriates.SE question, because you want to switch to a long-term (over 6 months) visa. – mkennedy Aug 27 '16 at 20:07
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Are there rules for 'conversion'/transfer from from J2 to J1 or B to J1? Does either require travelling back to, and applying from the home country?

There are no particular rules. When you apply for J1, you need to go out of the US, not necessary India, e.g. Canada.

Advantages of J2 over B1/B2:

  • You can work. However, in order to do so, you need to obtain a work permit (EAD) first, and this process often takes 3 months.
  • Staying time in the US is longer. You are dependent of your spouse, you can stay in the US as long as him/her (indicated in your DS-2019), even after your J2 visa is expired.

On the other hand, you have to leave the US before the day your B1/B2 is expired.

This may be a disadvantage for you on a J2 visa: it is required by the law that J2 dependent needs to be covered by a health insurance that satisfies some requirements (please google yourself since I do not remember all the details). If you buy it independently, it can cost thousand(s) per month. While you can have cheaper health insurance from your university after you start your post-doc.

Your spouse's university may also have health insurance for partner, but it may require you to buy the whole year as your spouse, etc.

B1/B2 doesn't need a heath insurance. However, if you are unlucky to get sick/injured in the US, it is not uncommon at all that one day in the hospital (in particular in the emergency room) can cost you more than 10 thousands or more.

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