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J Visa Waiver - Instructions for Applying and Eligibility Information

 

State Department's Recommendation on a Request for a Waiver of the INA 212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement Pertaining to J-1 Exchange Visitors

1. Overview: Are You Subject to the Two-year Foreign Residence Requirement?

An exchange visitor (EV) may be subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The EV's participation in an exchange program was funded by the United States Government, EV's own government, or an international organization.
  • The education, training, or skill the EV is pursuing in an exchange program appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List (1997 Amendment) for EV's country.
  • The EV acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

2. If You Are Subject, What Does That Mean?

If you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, you may not change your status to that of H, L, or K, or to immigrant or legal permanent status until you have fulfilled the two-year foreign residence requirement by going back to your home country or receiving a waiver of this requirement.

3. Requesting an Advisory Opinion, if You Are Not Sure That INA 212(e) Applies to You

If you are not sure whether the INA 212(e) two-year foreign residence applies to you, you may make a written request for an advisory opinion for the applicability of INA 212(e) to your situation. The advisory opinion request should include legible copies of every/all DS-2019/IAP-66 ever issued to you, along with a self-addressed envelope, and should be sent to:

INA 212(e) Advisory Opinion Request
The Waiver Review Division, CA/VO/L/W
SA-1, L-603
U.S. State Department
2401 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-0106

To learn more, please see J-1 Waiver FAQs.

Another option to determine if you are subject to the INA 212(e) two-year foreign residence requirement is to take the J visa waiver survey.  You will need to provide information about yourself and your program in order to complete the survey. 

4. If You Are Subject to the INA 212(e) and Want a Waiver of the Two-year Foreign Residence Requirement, There Are FIVE GROUNDS FOR WAIVERS

If a J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to but does not wish to comply with the two-year foreign residence requirement may apply for a waiver of that requirement under any one of the five applicable grounds for a waiver set forth in the INA 212(e). Choose the one that you qualify for or applies to your situation.

* No Objection Statement (NOS):

The EV's home country government issue a No Objection Statement (NOS) through its Embassy in Washington, DC directly to the Waiver Review Division that it has no objection to the EV not returning to the home country to satisfy the INA 212(e) two-year foreign residence requirement and does not object to the possibility of the EV becoming a resident of the U.S. The NOS may also be issued by a designated ministry of the EV's home government and forwarded to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section, within that country to be forwarded directly to the Waiver Review Division. The EV has the responsibility for obtaining a no objection statement from his/her home government.

Note: The law precludes the use of this option by foreign medical physicians, who acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

* Request by an interested government agency (IGA):

If an exchange visitor is working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. Federal Government agency, and that agency has determined that the visitor's departure for two years to fulfill the INA 212(e) requirement will be detrimental to its interest, that agency may request an interested government agency waiver on behalf of the EV for sake of public interest. The IGA request must be signed by the head of the agency or its designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division. The EV has the responsibility for obtaining an IGA request from a U.S. Federal Government agency.

Note: For IGA applications on behalf of foreign physicians, who agree to serve in medically under-served areas, please refer to Federal Register Volume 62, No. 102 of May 28, 1997.

* Persecution

If an exchange visitor believes that he or she will be persecuted based on his/her race, religion, or political opinion if he/she were to return to his/her home country, the EV may apply for a persecution waiver. This waiver basis requires that the EV submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), within Department of Homeland Security. Only if CIS makes a finding of persecution will the Waiver Review Division proceed with the waiver case under this basis. Once CIS makes a decision, it will forward directly to the Waiver Review Division its decision on Form I-613.

* Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or legal permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor:

If an exchange visitor can demonstrate that his or her departure from the United States would cause exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child, he or she may apply for an exceptional hardship waiver. (Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.) This waiver basis requires that the EV submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), within the Department of Homeland Security. Only if CIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship will the Waiver Review Division proceed with the waiver case under this basis. CIS will forward its decision directly to the Waiver Review Division on Form I-613.

* Request by a designated State Department of Public Health or its equivalent, CONRAD:

Pursuant to the requirements of Public Law 103-416, a foreign medical graduate who has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area, and agrees to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving such a waiver, and who signs a contract to continue to work at that health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and for not less than three years, may apply for a waiver under this basis.

The EV must first apply with a state public health department which is allowed to request 30 such waivers per federal fiscal year. Five of the thirty requests may be for EV physicians who will serve at a facility which may not be located within a designated area but serves patients who live within a designated health care professional shortage area. The state public health department will forward the Conrad requests directly to the Waiver Review Division if agrees to sponsor the EV for such a waiver.

Note: Only foreign medical doctors who received their J-1 status to pursue graduate medical education or training may apply for a waiver under this basis.

5. How to Apply for a Waiver

STEP 1

The Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application, Form DS-3035 must be used. No other version of the DS-3035 will be accepted. Upon completing the Form DS-3035 online, your information will be downloaded into a barcode and you will be issued immediately a waiver case file number and further instructions. Once you have completed this online form, you must print and mail in your DS-3035 Application with barcode, and payment as explained below: Please note that the barcode must be printed in black and white only.

  • Two self addressed stamped legal-size envelopes (S.A.S.E.) and a check or money order for US $215 made payable to the U.S. Department of State to:

     Postal Service

     U.S. Department of State
     Waiver Review Division
     P.O. Box 952137
     St. Louis, MO 63195-2137

     Courier Service

     U.S. Department of State
     Waiver Review Division
     (Box 952137)
     1005 Convention Plaza
     St. Louis, MO 63101-1200

Please Note:

  • ONLY APPLICATIONS USING THE ONLINE FORM DS-3035 WILL BE ACCEPTED. Applications with other versions of Form DS-3035 will be returned to the sender without processing fee. THE $215 PROCESSING FEE IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
  • Please write the applicant's full name, date of birth and Social Security Number , if any, on the check or money order. Please do not send cash.
  • Remittances must be drawn on a bank or other institution located in the U.S. and made payable in U.S. currency to the U.S. Department of State.
  • If the applicant resides outside the United States at the time of application, remittance may be made by bank international money order or foreign draft drawn on an institution in the U.S. and made payable to the U.S. Department of State in U.S. currency.

Your application must be sent to the lock-box address in St. Louis which will process your check, money order, then forward the waiver package to the Waiver Review Division. If you fax or mail your application to the Waiver Review Division, it will NOT be processed.

STEP 2

It is your responsibility to submit all requested documents and ensure that required documents are sent on your behalf by third parties. The Waiver Review Division will NOT follow up on documents that have not been received. Rather, it will be your responsibility to ensure that your file is complete. Once you have your waiver case number, you should check on the status of your application by visiting the J Visa Waiver Status Check website. If you notice an error regarding your waiver case, you should contact Public Inquiries at (202) 663-1225.

Some documents (such as "No Objection" statement from EV's home government, an IGA request from an Interested Federal Government agency, a Conrad request letter from a state public health department, or CIS' finding of exceptional hardship or persecution (on Form I-613) will be submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division by the responsible third party. However, you, the waiver applicant, must initiate the process by requesting such documents directly from the responsible third party or by applying directly with these other agencies. And, if the third party agrees, your other required documents, such as your DS-2019 or IAP-66, may be forwarded to the Waiver Review Division through the third party.

STEP 3

At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. You will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address you listed on your Form DS-3035 or the most current address we have for you if you reported a change of address.

USCIS has the responsibility for making the final determination on your waiver request. USCIS will notify you directly, whether your waiver application is denied or approved.

ANY TIME THERE HAS BEEN AN ADDRESS CHANGE PLEASE NOTIFY THE WAIVER REVIEW DIVISION OF THE CHANGE. IF WE DO NOT HAVE YOUR MOST CURRENT ADDRESS WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE WE NEED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM YOU TO PROCEED WITH YOUR CASE OR YOU MAY NOT RECEIVE THE RESULTS OF THE WAIVER REQUEST.

Please do not fax or contact the Waiver Review Division directly regarding your waiver case. The Division does not have the manpower to respond to such inquiries. You should contact the Public Inquires Division, which was created to respond to inquiries from the public, regarding your waiver case, (202) 663-1225.


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