J-1 Visa Two Year Foreign Residence Requirement and Waiver Options
Exchange visitors may be subject to the two year residence requirement because they may possesses much needed skills in their home country or because the J-1 program the participated in was sponsored by the visitor's government.
How do I determine if I am subject to the two year foreign residence requirement?
To determine if you are subject to the two year residency requirement, check your J visa. There is a line on your visa that reads “subject to the two-year rule.” If you are required to fulfill the two year foreign residency requirement the box next to that phrase will be ticked. However, even if this box is not checked, you may still be subject to the two year residence rule. Immigration laws are complex and often involve international laws and regulations. We recommend that you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to determine if you are subject to the foreign residency requirement. JCS Immigration and Visa Services can help you determine whether you are subject to the two-year rule. Call or email today! [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]
Are my spouse and children also subject to the two year residency requirement if they joined me in the U.S. with a J-2 visa?
Yes, if you are subject to the two year residency requirement, his or her spouse children will also be subject to the two year residency requirement.
How can I obtain a waiver for the J-1 visa two year foreign residence requirement?
Those who are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement may be able to waive this requirement if they meet certain conditions. USCIS will grant a waiver upon a favorable recommendation from the Department of State (DOS). An exchange visitor must first obtain a waiver of the residency requirement before he or she can change to another nonimmigrant status or apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card. If you want to apply for a waiver, it is important that you present your application and supporting documentation correctly and do not waste your opportunity. For expert legal counsel and assistance with your waiver application, please feel free to call or email JCS Immigration and Visa Services. [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]
Who can apply for the J-1 two year residency requirement waiver?
There are several grounds on which you may apply for the J-1 two year foreign residency requirement waiver.
- The J-1 exchange visitor has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or unmarried minor child and establishes in the waiver application to USCIS that if the visitor complies with the two year foreign residence requirement, it would impose exceptional hardship on the spouse or child.
- The J-1 exchange visitor establishes that returning to his or her home country would subject the visitor to persecution on the account of race, religion, or political opinion. If a noncitizen subject to the foreign residency requirement can prove this to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the foreign residency requirement will be waived.
- An interested U.S. government agency requests the United States Secretary of State to recommend a two year residency waiver on the J-1 visitor's behalf for the reason that if the visitor were to fulfill the residency requirement, it would be detrimental to a program or activity of official interest to the agency. An interested government agency must be a Federal Government Agency that has a vested interest in the visitor remaining in the U.S. Both the U.S. State Department and the USCIS must agree to grant the waiver.
- The exchange visitor’s home country or last foreign residence agrees to issue a written statement that it has no objection to the waiver of the two year residency requirement. The foreign residency requirement may be waived if the Department of State accepts the letter. A “no objection” waiver is generally not available to medical residents or interns who received medical training in the U.S. because individuals trained in the medical fields are often in short supply.
- Medical doctors who have been offered a full-time job in a health care facility serving in an area with a shortage of medical professionals may receive a waiver at the request of a designated State Health Agency or its equivalent. However, in order to qualify for this type of waiver, the physician must agree to work at the facility for forty hours per week, for a minimum of three years. The doctor must also begin work at the health care facility within ninety days of the approval of the waiver.