Waiver Of The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement For Your J-1 Visa
If you are in J-1 status, then you may be subject to the “home residency requirement.” If you have received either U.S. government, international organization or home country funding, then you are subject to this requirement. The funding must have come directly to you and not to your principal investigator (PI) if you are working on a government-funded grant. Also, if your country has informed the U.S. government that the skills that you are obtaining in the U.S. are needed in your country, then you are subject to this requirement. This is found on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
At the Law Offices of Paul Herzog, we can help you understand this process. Our firm has been helping professionals and other exchange visitors with their visas for over 20 years. We will review a copy of all your DS-2019 forms as well as a copy of all your J visa stamps that you obtained at a U.S. consulate in order to determine if you even have the two-year home residency requirement. Remember, not everyone in J visa status has this problem.
Obtaining A Waiver
If you are subject to the residency requirement, then you might be able to obtain a waiver. Perhaps you can obtain a No Objection Statement from your embassy in Washington, D.C., that states that your country does not object to your remaining in the U.S. If you received U.S. government funding, however, such as a Fulbright grant of any size, you may have more difficulty having the No Objection Statement request approved.
If you received U.S. government funding, you may receive a waiver if a U.S. government agency acts as an “Interested Government Agency” and informs the U.S. Department of State that your value to the U.S. outweighs the money that you might have received. They will also request a waiver for you, your spouse and your children, if you have any. For example, if you have received a Fulbright Scholarship and are working on the cure for cancer, perhaps the Department of Health and Human Services will act as your “Interested Government Agency” (IGA), and U.S. Department of State will grant a waiver.
Other examples may include:
- You may receive a waiver if leaving the U.S. would cause “exceptional hardship” to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- If you are a physician and you have a J visa sponsored by the Educational Commission For Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), certain circumstances might warrant a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement.
Our office has obtained many IGA and exceptional hardship waivers. These types of applications can take many months and require careful planning. Once the waiver is granted, your program sponsor as found on the DS-2019 may no longer extend your document. In this case, you must either apply for an H-1B or an O-1 visa or obtain permanent residence.