The J-1 visa is designed for exchange visitors from foreign countries who elect to participate in a specialized program in the U.S. The program can be either government-sponsored or in the private sector. Some common jobs that J-1 visa holders have are:
- Camp Counselor
- Nanny or Au Pair
Usually, the validation period for a J-1 visa heavily depends on the length of your chosen program. For example, students and interns may not have as long of a stay as a physician or a professor.
Once the visa validation period has expired, all J-1 visa holders are then subject to the Foreign Residency Requirement. The Foreign Residency Requirement mandates that the visa holder must return to his/her home country for two years before he/she is eligible to come back to the United States under another nonimmigrant visa or green card.
Statutory Bases for the J-1 Waiver
In order to bypass the Foreign Residency Requirement, you need to obtain a J-1 visa waiver. These aren’t freely given, however, and to qualify for this, you need to meet one of the four statutory bases. They are:
- Exceptional Hardship: You will need to prove that returning to your country will result in hardship for your dependents provided that they are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (green card holders)
- Government Intervention: If it is in the best interest of an agency of the U.S. government to have you remain in the U.S., then you may qualify for the waiver.
- Persecution: You must be able to prove that returning to your home country will most likely result in being persecuted.
- Conrad Program: In this situation, a waiver can be granted if the J-1 visa holder is a medical graduate that has received an offer for a full-time job in an area with a shortage of healthcare professionals.
- No Objection Statement: We will cover this in detail below.
No Objection Statement (NOS)
If the applicant is unable to meet the two-year requirement, the applicant has the opportunity to apply for a ‘No Objection Statement’. The applicant can submit a J-1 Waiver Recommendation Application to the U.S. Department of State, Waiver Review Division. If favorable and accurately based on the No Objection Statement qualifications, a recommendation letter is sent to the USCIS who will then make the final decision.
The No Objection statement may be issued from:
- The home country’s embassy in Washington D.C., or
- The home country’s designated ministry
A No Objection Statement may be issued by the embassy of the applicant’s home country government. The embassy creates a No Objection Statement and files it to the Waiver Review Division. It is required that the embassy in Washington, DC, send it directly to the Waiver Review Division.
The J-1 Waiver No Objection Statement indicates that the home country government does not require the applicant to fulfill the “two-year home-country physical presence requirement.” The No Objection Statement also declares that the home country does not have an objection to the applicant potentially becoming a permanent resident in the United States.
The No Objection Statement is also capable of being issued by the indicated ministry of the home country. The ministry submits the No Objection Statement to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section. The U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section is located within the home country’s U.S. embassy. The U.S. embassy is required to send the No Objection Statement directly to the Waiver Review Division for the final decision.
You are Ineligible for a No Objection Statement If You Are:
- A foreign medical physician with J-1 visa status who is receiving graduate medical education/training unless you have received J-1 visa status before January 10, 1977.
- Directly or indirectly being financially supported by the U.S. government.
The option of obtaining a No Objection Statement depends on the applicant’s home country. Not all countries provide No Objection Statements while others approve the requests quickly. On average it takes most countries 6-8 weeks. The applicant is suggested to determine his/her home country’s stance on the No Objection Statement before he/she begins the waiver process.
Steps to Getting J-1 Waiver Under No Objection Statement Basis
Since the No Objection Statement basis involves both the government of your home country and that of the United States, the best thing is to understand the process from both ends before starting it. The following are the steps for applying for a no-objection statement waiver.
Know Your Home Country’s No Objection Policy
Every country has its own policy for issuing a no-objection statement to its citizens under a J-1 visa in the U.S. Therefore, you will need to first familiarize yourself with the policy. In general, the Department of State (DOS) requires foreign countries to send their no-objection statements directly to the Waiver Review Division. However, each country has the prerogative to determine its own procedures.
For instance, some countries may require their citizens to obtain multiple forms from their embassy in the U.S., which they will also have to send to various government institutions in their country.
Complete the J-1 Waiver Online Application
Now that you are familiar with your home country’s procedures for no objection, you can proceed by completing the J-1 Waiver Application. This is Form DS-3035 and must be completed online. Doing so will generate a barcode and allow you to pay the required application fee online as well.
After completing it online, you can then print it out and fill in the required details by hand. Do not make the mistake of printing out a blank, unfilled form and then filling it in later by hand. That will not contain the required barcode and will be rejected.
The system will also allow you to generate barcoded coversheets and document packets needed to place other required documentation. Once you are done filling out the form, you will need to mail it along with the processing fee in the form of a cashier’s check or money order.
Be sure to mail the application and the payment to one of the following locations:
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P. O. Box 952137
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200
Once the Waiver Review Division receives your application, you will be issued a case number as well as any additional instructions. You can use this case number to check the status of your pending application.
Prepare Your Statement of Reason
A statement of reason is more like your supporting evidence for the J-1 waiver request. You will need to explain your reason for requesting a waiver for the home country presence requirement. In this statement, you need to be concise and honest. Keep in mind that all the DOS needs is a convincing statement.
As long as you are truthful, there is no need to overthink it. There is a link called Create a Statement of Reason on the J-1 visa waiver online webpage that you can click to submit your statement of reason. To ensure a smooth process, it is best to have drafted and saved this statement beforehand on your computer, which will allow you to double-check and edit it as well. You can then copy and paste it onto the webpage when you’re ready.
Request the No Objection Statement
Now that you have completed the DOS requirements, you can now request the no-objection statement from your home country. Because you are already familiar with the steps, it will be easier to complete the process. You can simply submit all necessary documents and fees, as well as the DOS waiver recommendation number that was issued to you. Your home country will review your request and decide whether or not to approve it.
If it is approved, your home country’s embassy or consulate will send the no-objection statement directly to the DOS Waiver Review Division. The no-objection statement cannot be submitted by you. It must be exchanged between the two governments directly, though you may receive a copy of it.
Once the DOS receives the no-objection statement, it will start processing it. You can monitor the progress online using the case number earlier issued to you. The Review Division will forward the case to the USCIS for recommendations on whether to approve the case.
What if My No Objection Statement Request Is Denied?
Your no objection statement may be denied for various reasons. For instance, some countries have adopted a policy of not issuing no-objection statements to their citizens. If your home country has such a policy, your request will most likely receive a denial. Your no objection waiver may also be denied if you have received funding either from the U.S. government or your home country government during your J-1 program.
Can I Appeal the Denial?
Unfortunately, you cannot appeal or file a motion to reconsider a J-1 waiver denial. Also, you cannot reapply under the same basis that you have been denied. If your no-objection waiver request is denied for any reason, you may explore any of the four remaining bases to get a waiver if your situation meets those requirements.
- Provide evidence that your U.S. citizen or spouse would face exceptional hardship if you return to your home country.
- Provide proof that you will suffer persecution because of your race, religion, political views.
- Get an interested government agency (IGA) to recommend you for a waiver because you are involved in a project or research, and it is in the best interest of the agency for you to remain in the U.S. to complete the work.
- A request by a designated State Public Health Department, under the Conrad Program Waiver for physicians
Processing Time for J-1 No-Objection Waiver
The processing time for a no-objection waiver is within six to eight weeks if you follow the above steps and present your case in a convincing way. It is one of the shortest among the bases for a waiver.
When Can I Change or Adjust My Status After J-1 Waiver?
Before the final decision is made on your application, you can start an application for a change of status to H-1B, L-1, or any other nonimmigrant status using the waiver recommendation letter from the DOS. Also, if you are eligible to apply for a green card (for instance, you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident), you can also commence the adjustment of status application. If eventually, the no-objection waiver is approved, then USCIS will proceed to process your adjustment of status or change of status application.
However, if you are no longer in the United States, you must wait for the final approval by USCIS before you can apply for a visa (using the Form I-612 approval) at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Getting a J-1 visa waiver under the no-objection basis can be somewhat tricky, especially as it involves both your home country’s government and that of the U.S.. But you can make it easier by working with an experienced immigration lawyer. And this is where we can come in.
At our immigration firm, we have a team of experienced J-1 lawyers that have helped countless exchange visitors get J-1 visa waivers so that they can remain in the U.S. after their stint has ended.
Our immigration lawyers are experienced in facilitating the communication and documentation in order to obtain a No Objection Statement from the applicant’s embassy or designated ministry. Our J-1 waiver lawyers understand the Foreign Residency Requirement and have an in-depth knowledge of how to process the specific forms, supplementary documents, and filing fees. Our attorneys are aware of all the possible options for J-1 visa holders who wish to extend their J-1 visa.
You will significantly improve your chances of getting no-objection waiver approval if you work with a qualified immigration attorney. You can get contact and schedule an appointment with one of our J-1 lawyers today by filling out this consultation form.