J-1 visas are available to citizens of foreign countries who are part of approved exchange visitor programs between the United States and other countries. Generally, there must be a foreign exchange program and the person seeking entry into the United States must be approved by the program. See here for general information. Examples of foreign exchange programs include:
- Au pair programs
- Camp counselor programs
- Government visitors
- Physician exchange programs
- Professor and research scholar exchange programs
For some J-1 visa holders, there is a requirement that is generally called the "2-year home-country physical presence requirement. Essentially, the visitor is required to return home for two years at the end of the exchange visitor program. The home residency requirement applies in the following types of exchange programs:
- Government funded programs
- Graduate medical education or training programs and
- Specialized knowledge or skill programs (which are aimed at developing persons with specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the home country)
Waiver of the Home Residency Requirement
There are some circumstances where the residency requirement can be waived. Generally, these are called "J-1 waivers." As described here, there are five ways to obtain a J-1 waiver. Applications are made to the United States Department of State. The five reasons are:
- No "Objection Statement" -- not allowable for foreign medical physicians -- but for others, these are obtained from the government of the foreign country (though its embassy) stating that the foreign government has no objection to waiver to the 2YHCPPR and no objection to the possibility that the person might seek to become a permanent resident
- Request by an interested United States federal government agency -- these are for persons working on a project for or of interest to the federal government
- Request by a designated State government public health department -- this is generally called the "Conrad State 30 Program" -- these waivers are for graduate medical training/education exchange visitors -- generally is available for those with a full-time job offer at a health care facility in a designated "health care professional shortage area"
- Persecution in the home country -- exchange visitors who might face persecution based on race, religion or political opinion in their home country can seek a J-1 waiver
- Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child -- only available if the exchange visitor has a spouse or child in the United States; the hardship must be "exceptional" not just the ordinary hardship that occurs by being separated from family
What is the Process?
For the first three types of waivers, the J-1 visa holder will need proper statements and documentation from the relevant governmental official. Thus, for the "no objection waiver," the Embassy or relevant Ministry or Department will need to provide the required letter. Likewise, the Conrad State 30 Program. For the other two waivers, the J-1 visa holder will need to file Form I-612 and provide supporting documentation showing either persecution or exceptional hardship.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.