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How to Get a J-1 Visa Two-Year Home-Residency Waiver

The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa where once the program is completed, the visitor is required to return to their home country. Certain nonimmigrants with J-1 visas are required to return home for a minimum of two years at the conclusion of their exchange visitor program. However, some individuals decide that they want to stay in the United States once their visa expires. In this situation, we will explain the J-1 Visa Waiver for those required to return home for at least two years.

There are several different ways to request a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement:

  • No Objection Statement:
    • The applicant’s home country may issue a No Objection Statement from their embassy in Washington DC or from a designated department in your home government. The letter must state that your country has no objection to the applicant not returning for two years and also you may become a lawful permanent resident of the US. Physicians that received a J-1 after January 10, 1977 may not use this waiver.
  • Request by an Interested US Federal Government Agency:
    • If the applicant has been working for the federal government and they decide that it is in their best interest to keep the foreign individual, then the agency may request a waiver.
  • Fear of Persecution:
    • If the applicant has a fear of persecution once they return to their home country, then they may apply for a waiver. The persecution is based on race, religion, or political opinion.
  • Exceptional Hardship to a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse or Child:
    • If the visitor’s spouse or child will experience exceptional hardship without them then they may file the waiver. However, separation from the family member is not enough for exceptional hardship. The application may include medical, psychological, financial hardship. There is no specific hardship that will persuade USCIS. Rather they will look at the applicant’s situation as a whole.
  • Conrad State 30 Program (Request by State Public Health Department or Equivalent):
    • If the applicant is a foreign medical graduate and has the following then they may request a waiver:
      • Offer of full-time employment at facility in a designated area with a shortage of healthcare or facility that serves such population;
      • The applicant agrees to the employment terms within 90 days of receiving a waiver; and
      • Sign an employment agreement to continue working at the facility for at least 40 hours per week and a minimum of 3 years.

The US Department of Homeland Security must approve the waiver before the applicant can change status in the United States.

If you or someone you know has a J-1 visa and believes that they may qualify for any of the above waivers, they should contact an immigration attorney to discuss the procedures for their specific situation. Hwang Law Group may be based in Las Vegas, Nevada, but our experienced immigration attorney is capable of assisting anyone, anywhere regarding their immigration concerns. Reach out today.