If you are on a J-1 visa you may be subject to the two year home requirement. If you are before you can get a immigrant visa you have to either complete that requirement or have it waived. You may be able to get what is known as a J-waiver which waives this home requirement. The two year home rule is also referred to as the foreign residence requirement under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(e), or just INA s. 212(e).
The J-1 visa is a great way to travel to the United States and learn about daily life in America. It is a non-immigrant visa and was designed to foster global understanding through cross-cultural exchange. The program generally involves letting an American organization sponsor a foreign national who then works or studies in the United States for a short term and upon completion of the program then returns home. A prospective exchange visitor would need to first obtain a form called a DS-2019 from a sponsor in order to apply for the J1 visa. Here is a list of sponsors. Sponsors may individually have their own requirements, but generally the U.S. government requires a participant to at least be proficient in the English language and obtain at least the minimum standard of medical insurance according to the program’s regulations in order to be eligible for a J-1 visa. You can also bring a spouse or dependent with you while participating in the J-1 visa by acquiring a J-2 visa for the spouse or dependent.
Although if a J-1 visa holder is subject to the two year home requirement then this visa holder’s spouse or dependent who is on the J-2 is also subject to the two year home requirement However under some circumstances the participant may be subject to a two year home requirement when the program is finished. For instance, if the U.S. government or the home government funds the exchange program, or if the participant gains specialized knowledge or skills needed in the home country, or if the participant receives medical training. This is where the J waiver comes into play. If you are unable to return home to fulfill the two year home requirement then you need to obtain this waiver before adjusting your status in the U.S. or being issued a visa for certain categories for travel or working in the U.S. To apply for the waiver you must choose only one out of five bases for which you feel you qualify. The five bases include:
- No Objection Statement;
- Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency;
- Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of the exchange visitor; or
- Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its Equivalent (also known as the Conrad State 30 program).
The No Objection Statement is a statement that your home government would issue to the U.S. government explaining that they have no objection to your not returning home to fulfill the two year home requirement. Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency means that if you are for instance working on a project with a U.S. government agency and the two year home requirement would be detrimental to the interests of this agency then the agency can request a waiver on your behalf. If you believe that you will face persecution if you return home based on your race, religion or political opinion then you can request a persecution waiver. If you feel that your departure to your home country would cause exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child then you can apply for the waiver under the category of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of the exchange visitor. However be aware that separation from family is not enough to be considered exceptional hardship by the U.S. government for this particular waiver.
You can also request a waiver of the home requirement if you are a foreign medical student pursuing graduate medical training or education during your exchange visit. This waiver category is also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. This is where a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent can request the waiver only if you meet all of the following criteria: you have 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; you must also agree to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving the waiver; and you must sign a contract to continue working at that health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and for not less than three years. There are many different areas to get involved in on the J-1 visa program from being a camp counselor to doing university research depending on a participant’s interests and qualifications.
If you’re currently on the J-1 visa and are looking to secure a J-waiver or for any other immigration queries please contact me at www.hannafordimmigration.com to see how I can help.