J-1 Visa Waiver

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which extends to individuals who take part in work study programs focused on cultural exchange, particularly business or medical training. The J-1 Visa has an expiration date two years of stay after arriving in the United States. However, J-1 Visa holders may be able to obtain a J-1 Visa waiver which revokes the 2 year limitation if he/she meets specific conditions.

One way to receive a J-1 Visa waiver form is through a recommendation from the Department of State (DOS).

J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Process:

  • The applicant files a data sheet to the Department of State Waiver Review Division. The J-1 waiver applicant must complete the data sheet with two stamped self-addressed envelopes and the required fee.

  • The Department of State sends the applicant the case number and a sheet with specific instructions. The instructions vary depending on which category of waiver selected on the data sheet.

  • The application for the Waiver of the Foreign Residency (form I-612) is then required for persecution and hardship waiver applicants. The USCIS may approve the persecution and hardship waiver. If the USCIS grants authorization, it transfers the information to the Department of State Waiver Review Division. The division reviews all aspects of the case and then decides if a J-1 waiver recommendation will be made.

The Department of State Enables the J-1 Visa Waiver for any of the following:

  • The applicant has a “No Objection” letter from the government of the applicant’s home country. The “No Objection” letter indicates that the home country government allows the waiver of the two year requirement. Applicants who are medical residents/interns experiencing medical training the United States are not eligible for the “no objection” letter.

  • A U.S. Federal Government Agency may request the applicant to stay in the United States out of interest. This could be due to the applicant working on an agency project or the applicant may have been working on a project of interest to the agency. The U.S. Federal Government Agency would then request the Department of State to waive the two year requirement. However, the Department of State and USCIS must consent to the J-1 waiver.

  • The applicant has the ability to receive the J-1 waiver due to possible suffering or persecution of returning to the home country. The threat is obligated to be based upon the applicant’s race, religion, or political opinion.

  • The applicant is capable of obtaining the J-1 waiver through hardship which may be occurring with the applicant’s spouse or child. (The spouse or child must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident). Be aware that hardship must be severe. So for example, this may include an unforeseen medical problem upon entering the program or life threatening conditions in the home country.

  • The J-1 waiver can be requested through a specific State Health Agency. This exemption is indicated for physicians who have received a full-time job offer within a healthcare facility enduring a lack of available medical professionals.

    • Applicant is required to work for 3 years, of a minimum of 40 hours a week, and must begin employment within 90 days of J-1 waiver approval.

Steps to Apply for “No Objection” Waiver

There are four basic steps involved when applying for a J-1 visa waiver based on a  “no objection” statement. It’s imperative that these steps be followed precisely for the best possible outcome.

First you need to determine your home country’s no objection procedure. Since it may vary from country to country it’s important to take any disparities into account. Note that the Department of State typically expects your home country to send the no-objection statement to the Department of State Waiver Review Division, but different countries may have their own procedures.

A J-1 visa waiver lawyer can aid in determining these procedures. Otherwise, the best way to find out what your country’s process is to contact your embassy in the United States or visit their official embassy website. 

The second step is to complete the J visa waiver recommendation application online. This essentially reserves a case number for your waiver application. All of these instructions can be found on the J visa waiver page and should be completed electronically, then printed and sent to the Department of State. Applications which a not electronically completed (without a barcode) will be rejected by the DOS.

After you’ve completed the second step and received your case number, you’ll then be able to submit your statement to the DOS. Be clear that your statement should explain the facts of your case and why you need to receive this waiver of the 2-year residence requirement. Try to stick to the facts and be concise in your answer.

The fourth step is to send all the necessary documents, fees, and the DOS waiver application to your country’s embassy in Washington DC. If your request is approved then the waiver will be sent to the DOS Waiver Review Division and you will get a copy of it from your embassy.

In no way is approval guaranteed on any case. Also once a decision is made you cannot appeal it since considerable thought goes into determining the decision.

J-1 Visa Waiver Denial

Dealing with a denial of any kind in the world of immigration law can be an inconvenience at best and a devastating setback at worst. If you receive a J-1 visa waiver denial, here are some things you should know before moving forward.

The J-1 visa waiver review process is extensive and rigorous, meaning that the decision on your waiver is usually final. Because of this, there is no official avenue for appealing the Waiver Review Division’s decision. However, you may be able to apply under a new statutory basis such as persecution or exceptional hardship.

To do this, be sure you have the help of a qualified immigration attorney. He or she can assess your particular immigration situation and determine the best statutory base to work toward. A large part of your approval or denial has to do with how your case is argued on paper. It’s not enough to simply present the facts. They also need to be presented in a way that shows that they fulfill the regulations from a legal perspective.

If you are unable to satisfy the requirements for any of the other bases, you will most likely need to fulfill the 2-year home residency requirement before applying for another work visa or lawful permanent resident status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the more common questions our firm gets concerning the J-1 visa waiver:

Where can you get a “no objection” statement?

A “no objection” statement can be obtained by contacting the consulate of your home country’s embassy. You would then have the home country’s embassy submit the statement after receiving a case number from the DOS.

Are you able to appeal a denial of waiver application with “no objection”?

Unfortunately, since considerable attention is given to these applications, you cannot appeal a denial. There are other ways you can get approved for a waiver, as our J-1 Visa Waiver attorneys can explain. These include filing under a different statutory base like fear of persecution and exceptional hardship. Due to the complexity of this however, it’s advised to schedule a consultation.

How long is the no objection process?

The length of the no objection process is largely dependent on your home country’s processing speed. In some cases, the country may process the letter in a speedy manner and deliver a response after a couple months while others can take up to 6 months for a determination.

Are you permitted to apply for a no objection letter and an IGA at the same time?

Yes, you are allowed to but you must submit a J-1 Waiver recommendation application for each one sought, plus pay the processing fees separately.

What are some common reasons for J-1 visa waiver denials? 

There are many reasons for J-1 visa denials, and you should know the most common reasons so that you won’t make the same unnecessary mistakes in your application.

What if my country refused to issue no-objection statements?

There are some countries that have a universal policy which refuse to issue all no-objection statements. If your home country has adopted this policy or refuses to issue a statement after you’ve applied then you’ll need to try to get a waiver according to a different category. These include fear of persecution, exceptional hardship, etc. A J-1 visa waiver lawyer can aid in determining the best course of action. If none of these options work out, you’ll need to fulfill the two-year home presence requirement. 

What is your J-1 Waiver attorney fee charged? 

It would help if you would familiarize yourself with the complete list of attorney fees for the J-1 Waiver.

Can I remain in the U.S. after my J-1 visa is expired?

There is an official grace period for the J-1 visa that extends 30 days after your visa validation period ends. If you stay in the U.S. longer than the allotted grace period, you will be considered “out of status”, which can create serious consequences including bars from future attempts to enter the U.S.

Can my J-2 visa dependent enter the U.S. before me, the principle J-1 holder?

No. Unfortunately, the J-2 holder must either enter with or after the principle J-1 holder. However, this only applies to the first entry into the country. After that, the J-2 holder is free to come and go throughout their visa validation period.

How VisaNation Law Group Immigration Lawyers Can Help:

  • VisaNation Law Group immigration lawyers are capable of verifying if the applicant qualifies for any of the J-1 visa waiver options.

  • VisaNation Law Group J-1 visa lawyers have expertise in filing and submitting J-1 waiver documentation if the applicant is eligible for the Department of State Recommendation or one of the possible 5 exemptions.

  • VisaNation Law Group lawyers specialize in J-1 visa for physicians and other professionals. We’re highly experienced in complex J-1 cases and employ creative and effective strategies in obtaining J-1 visa waivers. Contact us to learn about the J-1 visa Waiver lawyer fees we charge.