J-1 Visa Waiver

Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, may be able to waive this requirement. The Department of State provides five (5) statutory bases that J-1 holders may use to waive the two-year foreign residency requirement.

  1. “No Objection” Letter
    The foreign residency requirement may be waived provided your home country’s government issues a “no objection” letter to the U.S. State Department indicating that it does not object to the two-year foreign residency requirement being waived.

        Exception: A “no objection” waiver is generally not available to medical residents/interns who received medical training in the U.S. For information about how to obtain a “No Objection” Letter, please click here.

2. Interested Government Agency Request (IGA)
An Interested Government Agency is a U.S. Federal Government Agency that has a vested interest         in the visitor remaining in the U.S., since it may be crucial to the agencies programs or functioning, if         he/she is working on a project for or of interest to the agency. The IGA may request that the U.S. State Department waive the Foreign Residency Requirement. Both the U.S. State Department and the USCIS must agree to grant the waiver. For information about how to obtain an IGA  waiver please click here. For a list of IGAs, please click here.

3. Threat of Persecution
If an alien subject to the foreign residency requirement can establish that he/she will suffer persecution upon return to the home country, the foreign residency requirement will be waived. The threat of persecution needs to be based on one of the following three (3) grounds:

1. Race;

2. Religion; or

3. Political Opinion.

        Note: The alien has the burden to prove that he/she “will be subject to persecution.” The alien need not prove past persecution.

 4. Hardship
If complying with the Foreign Residency Requirements imposes exceptional hardship on the alien’s spouse or child, and the spouse or child is a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, the Foreign Residency Requirement may be waived.

 5. Designated State Health Agency Request (for Physicians only)
A designated State Health Agency or its equivalent may request a waiver on the behalf of medical doctors who have been offered a full-time job with a health care facility serving in an area with a shortage of medical professionals. In order to qualify for the waiver, the person must agree in writing to work at the facility for forty (40) hours per week, for a minimum of three (3) years and must begin work at the health care facility within ninety (90) days of the approval of the waiver.