J1 Visa Attorney & Waivers of the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Helping you Navigate the J1 Process and Apply for Waivers

The J1 Visa is for non-immigrants who wish to come to the U.S. for a work and study based exchange visitor program. Some J1 Visa holders may be subject to a 2-year home residency requirement which requires the J1 Visa holder to return to his or her home country for a period of two years. The following types of work/study programs are approved by the Department of State:

  • Au Pairs;
  • Camp Counselors;
  • College and University Students;
  • Government Visitors;
  • International Visitors;
  • Physicians;
  • Professors and Research Scholars;
  • Secondary School Students;
  • Short-term Scholars;
  • Specialists;
  • Summer Work Travel;
  • Teachers; and
  • Trainees and Flight Training.

Family members of J1 Visa holder

The family of a J1 Visa holder may also come to the U.S. if they are the spouse or unmarried children of the holder under the age of 21 years. The family members may attend school as a J2 Visa holder without changing status to an F1 student. Also, the family members may work after applying for an employment authorization document.

Two-year home residency requirement?

The following classes of individuals are required to return to their home country for a period of 2 years before they may apply for any permanent status in the U.S:

  • If the individual’s J-1 status was financed either in whole or in part by the U.S. government or individual’s home country government;
  • If the individual’s home country lists the profession of the J-1 on their skills list; and
  • J-1’s that have received medical training in the U.S. as interns or residents.

Is there a way to waive the residency requirement?

Yes. In certain situations, the applicant may qualify for a waiver of the requirement. There are five waiver types which are available to qualifying applicants:

  1. No objection letter: A “no objection” letter may be provided by the government of the applicant’s home country which states that the government does not object to the waiver request of the applicant. However, this type of waiver is not available to medical residents who have received medical training in the U.S.
  2. Threat of persecution: The applicant may request a waiver if they are able to prove that upon the applicant’s return, he or she will be subjected to persecution on account of their race, religion, or political opinion.
  3. Hardship: The applicant may request a waiver based on a showing of hardship that the spouse or child (must be U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident) will endure as a result of the applicant being subject to the two-year requirement.
  4. Interested Government Agency (IGA): The IGA may request that the requirement be waived for the applicant if the applicant agrees to certain employment stipulations. The Vetran’s Health Administration, (VHA) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) are IGA’s which may sponsor the applicant for a waiver.
  5. Designated State Health Agency: The State Department of Health (Conrad 30) program also allows for up to 30 foreign physicians to be sponsored for a waiver so long as they commit to working in a underserved area for a minimum period of 3 years.

Contact our office to help you and your employer or program administrator navigate through the J1 process. If you believe you may qualify for one of the above waivers, we will be able to assist you in filing all of the necessary documents and evidentiary support to help meet the burden of proving your qualification.