J-1 Waiver of 2-Year Foreign Residency Requirement
With a J-1 visa, foreign nationals are approved to work and study in the U.S. by participating in visitor exchange programs that promote cultural exchange, particularly medical or business training.
Under these private and public sector programs, exchange visitors may study, teach, conduct research, share specialized skills, or receive training for up to several years.
Most J-1 visa holders must return to their home country to live for at least two years when their visas expire. Those who are unable or do not wish to return to their home country for two years may file for a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security before the J-1 visa expires or before applying for another visa to travel to the U.S.
The spouse and dependent children of a J-1 visa holder are also eligible for a J-1 visa.
Most exchange visitors are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement after their J-1 visa expires. If this requirement applies to them, these individuals are usually informed when they agree to participate in the program or at their visa interview. If you participated in one of the following programs, you must return to your home country for two years:
- A program funded all or in part by a U.S. government agency, you home country’s government or an international organization that received funding from either the U.S. government or your home country’s government.
- A program involving study or training deemed necessary for further development in your home country and appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
- A program to receive graduate medical education or training.
Eligibility & Application Requirements
If you are subject to the two-year home-country residency requirement, but you are unable to fulfill the requirement, you may apply to the Department of State, Waiver Review Division for a recommendation that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grant a waiver. To apply for a waiver, you must complete the online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application and any other forms listed below.
A waiver may be granted based on one of the following:
- No Objection Statement: Your home country’s government must send a No Objection Statement through its embassy in Washington, D.C., directly to the Waiver Review Division or your home country’s government may also send a No Objection Statement to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in your home country. The U.S. Embassy would forward the statement to the Waiver Review Division. In a No Objection Statement, your country must state it has no objection to you not returning to your home country and no objection to the possibility of you becoming a permanent resident of the U.S. Foreign medical physicians are ineligible to use the No Objection Statement for a waiver.
- Interested Government Agency Waiver: If you are working on a project of interest to a U.S. federal government agency and that agency has determined that your departure for two years would be detrimental to its interest, that agency may request a waiver on your behalf.
- Persecution Waiver: You may apply for a persecution waiver if you believe you will be persecuted based on your race, religion, or political opinion if you return to your home country. To apply for this waiver, you must submit Form I-612 (Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement) and the filing fee directly to USCIS. USCIS will send its decision to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division.
- Exceptional Hardship Waiver: You may apply for this waiver if you can show your departure from the U.S. would cause hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child. Separation alone is not considered enough to qualify for exceptional hardship. To apply for this waiver, you must submit Form I-612 (Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement) and the filing fee directly to USCIS. USCIS will send its decision to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division.
- Conrad State 30 Program Waiver: If you are a foreign medical graduate who obtained a J-1 visa for graduate medical training or education and a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent requests a waiver on your behalf. You must also meet the following criteria:
- You have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in an area that has a shortage of health care professionals or at a facility that serves patients from such a designated area.
- You agree to take the job at that facility within 90 days of receiving a waiver.
- You sign a contract to continue working at that facility for 40 hours per week and for at least three years.
Services for Students
At Alcorn Immigration Law, we help prospective foreign students obtain or extend visas. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.