Frequently Asked Questions on J-1 Waivers

What is a J-1 waiver?
A J-1 waiver is a request to waive the two-year home-country physical presence requirement for exchange visitors (J-1 visa holders) who are subject to this requirement.
Who is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement?
Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement include those who received government funding for their J-1 program, participated in programs related to specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by their home country, or participated in medical residency or fellowship programs.
What are the grounds for obtaining a J-1 waiver?
Exchange visitors may be eligible for a J-1 waiver based on several grounds, including persecution in the home country, exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child, request by a designated State Department of Health or a federal agency, or request by a Interested Government Agency (IGA).
How can I apply for a J-1 waiver?
The process for applying for a J-1 waiver depends on the basis for the waiver. Generally, applicants must submit Form DS-3035 (J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application) to the U.S. Department of State's Waiver Review Division (WRD) and may also need to submit additional documentation depending on the waiver basis.
Can I apply for a J-1 waiver before completing the J-1 program?
Yes, exchange visitors can apply for a J-1 waiver before completing their J-1 program. However, certain waiver bases may require the completion of the program before a final decision is made on the waiver application.
How long does it take to process a J-1 waiver application?
Processing times for J-1 waiver applications can vary depending on factors such as the basis for the waiver and the workload of the U.S. Department of State's Waiver Review Division. Generally, it can take several months to over a year for a J-1 waiver application to be processed.
Can I appeal a denial of my J-1 waiver application?
Yes, individuals who receive a denial of their J-1 waiver application may have the option to appeal the decision through the appropriate channels. The specific appeals process will depend on the basis for the waiver and the immigration agency that issued the decision.
Can my spouse or children apply for a J-2 dependent waiver?
Yes, spouses and children of J-1 visa holders (J-2 dependents) may also be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement and may be eligible to apply for a J-2 dependent waiver based on the same grounds as the J-1 visa holder.
Can I apply for permanent residency (green card) after obtaining a J-1 waiver?
Yes, individuals who obtain a J-1 waiver may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in the United States through employment-based or family-based immigration pathways, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and requirements for the desired immigrant visa category.
Where can I find more information about J-1 waivers?
For more information about J-1 waivers, including eligibility criteria, application procedures, and waiver bases, individuals can visit the U.S. Department of State's website or consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can provide guidance and assistance.


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