J-1 Visa Waiver

Waiver of the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement

What is it

Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program.

This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e).

If you are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, but you are not able to fulfill the requirement, you may apply to the Department of State, Waiver Review Division for a recommendation that USCIS grant a waiver under any one of the five applicable bases set forth in U.S. immigration law. Choose the one basis that you qualify for or applies to your situation.

Five bases for Recommendation of a Waiver

  1. No Objection Statement:

Your home country government may issue a No Objection Statement through its embassy in Washington, DC directly to the Waiver Review Division that it has no objection to you not returning to your home country to satisfy the two-year home-country physical presence requirement and no objection to the possibility of you becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States. The No Objection Statement may also be issued by a designated ministry in your home country’s government and sent to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy within that country. The U.S. Embassy would then forward it directly to the Waiver Review Division.

Important Notice: U.S. law does not permit foreign medical physicians who acquired exchange visitor (J-1) visa status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training to use this option. For more information about the relevant U.S. law, see References – U.S. Laws, number 1.

  1. Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency:

If you are working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. federal government agency, and that agency has determined that your departure for two years to fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement would be detrimental to its interest, that agency may request an Interested Government Agency Waiver on your behalf. The Interested Government Agency request must be signed by the head of the agency or his or her designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division.

Any U.S. federal government agency may request a waiver under this basis. Review Designated Officials for Signatures for a listing of interested government agencies and names of their designated officials. (NOTE: This list does not contain information for all U.S. federal agencies. It only contains information from agencies that have provided the Department of State, Waiver Review Division with the names of individuals authorized to sign letters requesting waivers under this basis.)

Important Notice: For Interested Government Agency requests on behalf of foreign physicians who agree to serve in health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas, please refer to Step 3 of the How to Apply Instructions. For more information about the relevant law, see References – U.S. Laws, number 3.

  1. Persecution:

If you believe that you will be persecuted based on your race, religion, or political opinion if you return to your home country, you may apply for a persecution waiver. This waiver basis requires that you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of persecution.

  1. Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor:

If you can demonstrate that your departure from the United States would cause exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child, you 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 you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship.

  1. Request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program):

If you are a foreign medical graduate who obtained exchange visitor status to pursue graduate medical training or education, you may request a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement based on the request of a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, if you meet all of the following criteria. This waiver category is also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. You must:

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;

agree to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving a waiver; and

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.

How do I know if I am subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement?

As a current or past exchange visitor (J-1) visa holder, you are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, for one or more of the following reasons:

Government funded Exchange Program – You participated in an exchange program that was funded in whole or in part by a U.S. government agency, your home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. government or your home country’s government.

Specialized Knowledge or Skill – You participated in an exchange program involving an area of study or field of specialized knowledge that has been designated as necessary for further development of your home country and appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for your home country.

Graduate Medical Education/Training – You participated in an exchange program to receive graduate medical education or training.

What are the bases upon which I can apply for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement?

The five bases for recommendation of a waiver are:

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 an Exchange Visitor; and

Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its Equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program).

What is a “No Objection” letter?

A “no objection” letter indicates that the applicant’s home country government permits waiving the two-year home residence requirement. This statement can be obtained by first contacting your home country’s consulate at the embassy. After obtaining a case number from the Department of State (DOS) you could then have your home country’s embassy submit the statement.

You should request the No Objection Statement from your home country government once you have your waiver case number. You will receive your waiver case number when you complete the online application from travel.state.gov.

Step by Step process for the J-1 Waiver:

STEP 1 – Complete the Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application

STEP 2 – Mail your Waiver Application and Fee Payment

STEP 3 – Submit Supporting Documents

STEP 4 – Check your Waiver Request Status and Update your Contact Information

STEP 5 – If the Waiver Review Division Needs More Information from You

STEP 6 – Processing Times

STEP 7 – Department of State Recommendation and Final Determination by USCIS

Client Reviews

I've had the pleasure of conducting business with this law firm for the last 10 years. They have been nothing but the best for every aspect of immigration need I had. From F1 all the way to citizenship. They're probably the most affordable, knowledgeable, and most efficient immigration law firm out there. Plus, they always provide responses to questions in a very timely manner. Trust me, other immigration law firms will cost you an arm and a leg for the same or less of a service compared to this law firm. Give them a call, check out their website. You will not regret it.
Andy Glasgow
Andy Glasgow
17:26 27 Mar 17
Because of John and his team my wife and I were able to travel back to the states, get married and have a Green Card without any headaches. John’s efforts were amazing and it shows because my wife and I didn’t have to go to the Green card interview. We had a strong enough case to receive the Green card in the mail. If you’re seeking a Lawyer that will be impartial, he’s your guy.
19:18 23 Feb 17
Me & husband went through immigration process which thankfully was made easy with the help and services of Marc Tyler Inc. Our direct contact was John which i want to personally say Thank You ! The service provided was efficient, fast, affordable prompt answers in a timely fashion. I would recommend Marc Tyler Inc to anyone who need immigration done fast, easy, friendly & with no hidden charges.
Aleksandra Stoycheva
Aleksandra Stoycheva
15:27 26 Jan 17
I could not have asked for better service. I will definitely be coming back to get the green card process done. The fees are extremely reasonable and they stick with their clients the entire way. I had so many questions during this process, and each one of them were answered very quickly and with out most professionalism. This firm is a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend them to anyone.
bryan mowrey
bryan mowrey
06:41 25 Nov 16
Marc and John Dorer worked on our case to file for AOS after our L1A was approved.Marc and John are professionals and extremely reasonable-priced. The reason they are able to cut the price is because they don't spend time consulting you or guiding you and will never get on call.All communications are email only, so if you know precisely what you want they will do all the paper-work, follow the trail and get the job done. If you are confused and need advice and consulting, they may not be the right lawyers.But since we were doing our AOS, it worked out perfectly well and they did their job extremely professionally.Would recommend them every time to get the work done.
hardik parikh
hardik parikh
01:58 08 Feb 17
At first I thought I could have very well gone through the green card application process on my own and saved all lawyer fees. Its funny how some lawyers can charge in excess of 2K for this. However at Taylor and Associates the price seemed more reasonable and felt it made sense to go with one at that price. There were some doubts that arose in our mind which they cleared in a timely manner and seemed very knowledgeable in this area. Its for moments like these when having a professional around helps. While we can get busy with our lives and with laws constantly changing, I would definitely recommend them - a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Callistus Pereira
Callistus Pereira
17:51 06 Jun 17
I am US citizen. We hired Marc's firm for my wife's Green Card process, We are extremely happy with their services.They are one of the best service providers in the country. Price is very affordable. John is awesome. He responded to our queries on time with very useful information. We highly recommend this firm to anybody looking for affordable and the best immigration services. it was an awesome experience working with this team.
Narsimha M
Narsimha M
13:57 04 Aug 17
Mark and team went above all my expectations of an 'online' service agency I went in with very low expectations to match the low cost of the service and was amazed that the experience was no different than going through an expensive attorney. They were very prompt on responses, very patient and also very knowledgeable on every facet of the application (including a follow up checklist). I would highly recommend them considering the low cost they charge and the high risk we take by doing this ourselves
First Dhalsite
First Dhalsite
22:27 01 Sep 17
USVISANOW streamlined the paperwork which saved us so much time. This also reduced the stress involved in filling out the paperwork. They also are very understanding and respond very quickly to questions and emails. Jackline is now a US citizen which took less than 5 months. Thank you Mr. Taylor and your team. From Brian and Jacky.
Jackline Osero
Jackline Osero
17:32 12 Sep 17
The best law agency I have ever worked with. Very responsive, experienced. I trusted my green process to them and it was done perfectly without and issues in minimum possible period. Thank You Very much Marc, John and others!!!
Hrach Gyulzadyan
Hrach Gyulzadyan
16:38 30 Sep 17
My husband and I worked with John Dorer from Marc Taylor's office, and his services exceeded our expectations. He was very knowledgeable, responsive, and our Green Card process and interview from start to finish went smoothly. Thank you so much, John, for your dedication to our case and all your help. I would highly recommend USAVISANOW to all!
Sophia Nguyen
Sophia Nguyen
17:26 09 Oct 17
Marc and John helped me apply and get my green card. They are very specific about needed documents and other details. Also, they are very responsive when you have a question. I know I emailed them several times just to ask questions that I could have found answers online myself. They are very patient and professional. If you want to get great services with reasonable fees contact them!
Amin Bagheri
Amin Bagheri
11:54 12 Oct 17
Used the services of this office for Green Card through AOS and was mainly in contact with John Dorer. I was unsure about their services at first, considering the unusually affordable cost but was pleasantly surprised by their prompt responses to all our questions and their timely preparing and handling of our documents! Will be using their services again when filing for removal of condition! Definitely recommended!
Lisa Lorentzon
Lisa Lorentzon
22:56 10 Dec 17
my wife and i worked with John Dorer from Marc Taylors Associates. He's services were awesome and amazing. i would recommend him to anybody applying for their permanent resident to work with them.
Seun Olanrewaju
Seun Olanrewaju
15:33 22 Dec 17
I was very pleased with their professional service from the beginning to the end for my citizenship application. I am a professional working in the higher education and somewhat familiar with the immigration process. For that reason, I was thinking of applying it by myself but I found Taylor and Associates whose service fee is very affordable and worth of my time. Indeed, they found some of minor mistakes in my application, which could have delayed much longer for my application process. Luckily, they caught and fixed them immediately. Their communication was excellent. In fact, everything was very smooth. Even after I had the approval notice, they followed up with valuable advices. I strongly recommend their service if you need immigration services. Thank you Marc and John for your excellent services.
Dominic Choo
Dominic Choo
17:12 23 Dec 17

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