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Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I am currently outside of the US, but still work for my US institution. I find conflicting information regarding the possibility to do a J1-transfer, while being outside of the US.

Is it possible to transfer a J1 visa while being outside of the US?

View 1: https://ap.washington.edu/ahr/visas/j1/transfer/

If an Exchange Visitor leaves the US then seeks to return under the sponsorship of a new exchange visitor program, this would be viewed as a “new entry,” not a “transfer,” and therefore all the rules and procedures for beginning a new program would apply including possible bars on repeat participation in J-1 status.

View 2 (possible, but discouraged): https://isso.ucsf.edu/j-1-program-transfer

Exiting and Re-Entering the U.S. while transfer is pending While the transfer is pending, travel outside the USA is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. If emergency travel is necessary, consult ISSO immediately for assistance.

Thank you for your help!

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As you hinted in your question, the J-1 transfer regulations (22 CFR 62.42) are not entirely clear as they do not directly address the question of being outside the US during a transfer. There are some practical problems involved, such as the requirement for the new program sponsor to immediately validate your program which includes confirming your "actual and current US address". The Responsible Officers of both the old and new program sponsor have some discretion in determining what is acceptable, so the bottom line is you can only do it if both of them accept your plan.

If possible, you could avoid such issues if you could return to the US to continue participating in your current J-1 program first, and then do the transfer within the US. Alternatively, if you don't plan to enter the US at all, you might not need to maintain J-1 status at all.

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  • Thanks alot for the detailed response! Helps greatly! – William Sep 29 at 14:29

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