Immigration

J Visa Waiver FAQ

Do you have a J-1 exchange visitor visa to the US? You may be subject to a foreign residence requirement once your exchange visitor program is over. The US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, provides information on its website about the residence requirement. You may be able to get this requirement waived. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about J-1 visa waivers.



Q:

Is there a foreign residence requirement for exchange visitors?



  • A:

    Certain visitors are subject to a requirement to live in their home country once the exchange visitor program is over. The residence requirement is for two years.



Q:

What does the two-year foreign residence requirement prevent an exchange visitor from doing?



  • A:

    He can't change the status of his visa or permanently live in the US until he fulfills this requirement.



Q:

What factors determine whether an exchange visitor is subject to the residence requirement?



  • A:An exchange visitor may be subject to the residence requirement if his visit was funded by his country, by the US or by an international organization. He may also be subject to the requirement if his education, skill or training from the exchange program is found on his country's Exchange Visitor Skills List. Finally, he may be subject to the requirement if he pursued graduate medical education or training.



Q:

What's the Exchange Visitor Skills List?



  • A:

    The Exchange Visitor Skills List contains specific skills and knowledge that's considered necessary to help the exchange visitor's country.



Q:

What's the purpose of having the two-year residence requirement?



  • A:

    It's to help home countries by requiring their trained and educated exchange visitors to work in their own countries for two years instead of benefiting another country.



Q:

Does every country have its own Exchange Visitor Skills list?



  • A:

    No, many countries don't enforce a residence requirement based on a skills list.



Q:

If I'm subject to the residence requirement, is there any way to get around it?



  • A:

    You can request a waiver of the residence requirement with the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.



Q:

Where do I go to begin the process of requesting a waiver?





Q:

Once I complete the waiver application form, do I submit this information online or by mail?



  • A:

    You can't submit the application online. You must print out the documents and follow the mailing instructions given to you at the end of the process.



Q:

What information do I need to complete the waiver application form?





Q:

What grounds do I need to obtain a residence requirement waiver?



  • A:

    You can apply for a waiver under any one of five grounds:

    • No objection from your home country
    • A request from an agency of the US government
    • Persecution if you return to your home country
    • An exceptional hardship will occur to a US spouse or child
    • A request from a state department of public health



Q:

How do I waive the residence requirement based on no objection from my home country?



  • A:

    A "no objection" statement must be made by your home country and sent to the US Department of State. You can request a statement from your embassy in Washington, DC.



Q:

How do I waive the residence requirement based on a request from a US government agency?



  • A:

    A letter needs to be sent the US Department of State from the head or designated official of the agency. The letter needs to explain why it's in the public interest to grant the waiver request.



Q:

How do I waive the residence requirement based on persecution?



  • A:

    You must complete Form 3035 for the US Department of State and Form I-612 for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).



Q:

How do I waive the residence requirement based on an exceptional hardship?



  • A:

    You must complete Form 3035 for the US Department of State and Form I-612 for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).



Q:

How do I waive the residence requirement based on a request from a state public health department?



  • A:

    The state public health department has to send a variety of documents to the US Department of State, including:

    • A letter stating it's in the public interest to grant the waiver
    • A signed contract for at least three years
    • Copies of all DS-2019 forms



Q:

Where do I check the status of my case for a J-1 visa waiver?





Q:

Should I inform the US Department of State if I move or change my phone number during the application process?



  • A:

    Yes, you should inform the US Department of State of any change in personal contact information. A form is available online.



Q:

Does my J-2 spouse and child also have to follow the residence requirement?



  • A:

    Yes, your spouse and child are subject to the requirement the same as you.



Q:

If I'm granted a waiver, does that waiver also apply to my J-2 spouse and child?



  • A:

    Yes, your spouse and child won't be subject to the residence requirement.



Q:

How much do I have to pay to have my waiver application processed?





Q:

How long will it take for my waiver application to be processed?





Q:

Can I get an opinion from the US Department of State as to whether I'm subject to the residence requirement?



  • A:

    You can request an advisory opinion if you're unclear about the residence requirement. Send your request to this address:

    • INA 212(e) Advisory Opinion Request
      Waiver Review Division, CA/VO/L/W
      U.S. Department of State
      2401 E Street, NW, (SA-1, L-603)
      Washington, DC 20522-0106
Have a immigration question?
Get answers from local attorneys.
It's free and easy.
Ask a Lawyer

Get Professional Help

Find a Visas lawyer
Practice Area:
Zip Code:
 
How It Works
  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys
NEED IMMIGRATION HELP?

Talk to an Immigration attorney

We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you