The INS appears to have recently changed its longstanding policy with regard to changes of status from J-1 to J-2 and vice versa. No official Memorandum has been issued by the INS as yet and they are planning to issue
a Memorandum to address this issue in the near future.
A J-1/J-2 exchange visitor who is subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement is not eligible to apply for adjustment of status unless he or she either: (1) complies with that requirement; or (2) receives a waiver.
The INS may grant a waiver only if the Director of USIA issues a favorable recommendation. When USIA issues a favorable waiver recommendation, the INS will consider the requirement to be met for purposes of accepting the Adjustment of Status application or I-485. INS officers will, however, be required to adjudicate the waiver request first, as the legal responsibility for granting the waiver rests with the INS which has the final decision on the waiver.
The INS is in the process of issuing instructions. These instructions will allow INS officers to accept adjustment of status applications accompanied by a favorable USIA recommendation. These cases will generally involve
waiver applications/favorable USIA recommendations based on: (1) a No Objection letter from the government of the applicants home country; (2) a request by an interested U.S. Government (Federal) agency; or (3) a request by a State Department of Public Health on behalf of an FMG.
Waiver requests filed with the Service on form I-612 based on exceptional hardship or persecution may NOT be field concurrently with the I-485. The alien has neither complied with, nor been granted, a waiver at the time of
the adjustment application. The forthcoming memo on this issue is expected to instruct INS officers NOT to accept concurrent filings of I-612 hardship/ persecution waiver applications with I-485 where an I-612
hardship/persecution waiver is pending, unless the USIA has issued a favorable waiver recommendation and, only if a copy of that favorable recommendation is attached to the I-485.
Many of these changes are to be confirmed in Memos which are yet to be made available.