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The Foreign Residency Requirement has several names such as the “Two-year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement” or the “Home Residence Requirement,” but essentially they are all describing the same thing. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, J-1 visa holders, who have completed their program, are mandated to reside in their home country for a minimum of two years.
The individual may be able to travel to the United States under the B-1/B-2 visa, though time spent out of the home country will not count towards the Foreign Residency Requirement. The Foreign Residency Requirement must be fulfilled before any other action can occur. The individual is not allowed to do any of the following:
J-1 visa holders have an option to waive the Foreign Residency Requirement. If the individual is subject to the requirement but qualifies under one of five statutory bases, the individual may submit a DS-3035 waiver application, supporting documents, fee payment, and related forms. By following through with this application process, the applicant may be granted or denied a waiver by the USCIS.
You’ll need to get approval from both USCIS and the Waiver Review Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs if you believe you’re eligible for one of these waivers. If you intend on applying for a J-1 waiver, thoroughly follow the instructions on how to apply for each category.
Each statutory basis has its own individual requirements as well as additional or fewer steps. Failing to follow these instructions can result in an application that is forwarded back to the applicant without review and possible loss of the application fee.
To apply fully online, visit the J-1 visa waiver website and click on the blue letters that say “Complete an Online Application”. From there, the website will take you to a page where you will see general instructions for completing the information in a step-by-step procedure.
You will need to complete the DS-3035 online application and fill in the necessary information for the waiver application. Your SEVIS number and information about your J-2 dependents (if any) are some of the important items for the application.
After completing the form, a waiver case number will be issued to you. You will also get all the instructions needed to proceed with the application. The next thing will be to print your DS-3035 with the barcode. The barcode must be printed in black and white. Do not print in color.
J-1 waiver applicants are also advised to use a separate word processing program to answer lengthy essay-type questions after logging out and come back to complete the form later. The system will save your responses so that you do not have to restart. This way, you can copy and paste your longer responses directly into the form as you move between more specific pages.
Your waiver application doesn’t end online. You are still required to mail it the printed copy of the application to the appropriate government agencies. USCIS and the Waiver Review Division of the Department of State are the two agencies involved in the J-1 waiver application. Gather all of your items and mail them to the appropriate addresses. The required J-1 visa waiver documents include:
If you are shipping via the U.S. Postal Service, the address is:
Department of State J-1 Waiver
P.O. Box 979037
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
If you are shipping via the U.S. Courier Service, the address is:
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200
The next thing will be to submit your required supporting documents depending on the basis under which you are applying for the waiver. These documents are extra items that provide additional information to what you submitted in the application form.
If you are applying under the No Objection Statement, your supporting documents must include proof that your home country government has granted you permission to stay in the U.S. If your waiver is through an interested government U.S. agency or designated state public health department, the supporting documents must include evidence of the request from the concerned agency or department.
For persecution or exceptional hardship, the supporting documents must show proof to that effect. You can see our comprehensive guide on how to apply under each of the J-1 visa waiver bases.
After completing the J-1 visa waiver application, you will need to wait while it is being processed. However, you can monitor the progress by checking your status online. There is a button called ‘check status’ on the J visa waiver webpage, where you can enter your case number to determine if the DS 3035 has been received.
If any mandatory information is missing or additional information is required, this will also be indicated in the system. If there are any outstanding third party supporting documents, it will be your responsibility to contact the requesting organization.
Remember to wait about a month after submitting the completed application before checking your status.
The conditions for processing J-1 visa waiver applications vary, but the fees do not. When an applicant submits a recommendation request, Form DS 3035, a non-refundable fee of $120 applies. Anyone wishing to obtain a waiver for the two-year foreign residency requirement would otherwise be required to pay the commission by either money order or check.
To expedite the J-1 waiver’s processing time, the money order or the check must originate from a U.S. bank and be in U.S. dollars, regardless of the applicant’s country of origin.
For depositors outside the United States at the time of depositing the fee, it can be sent with a foreign payment order or an international bank, provided that the foreign payment order is from an establishment based in the United States. In all cases, any form of payment must be in U.S. currency and must be made to the U.S. Department of State.
It is a common mistake for J-1 waiver applicants to submit fees and applications separately, causing DOS to send the fee or application back to the applicant, who will then have to restart the process from the beginning. Work with an attorney to make sure that these kinds of simple errors are avoided.
Waiver processing times vary depending on the basis used to support the application. The following should be considered as a rough estimate, which may change at any time:
Remember that sending inaccurate contact information, especially if you currently live abroad and your address is in a foreign language, will delay your request.
Disclaimer: Expedited processing is available in cases of urgent humanitarian need or significant U.S. government interest. To request expedited processing, please e-mail [email protected] to describe your situation and include any supporting documentation. Expedited processing requests can be made by an applicant, lawyer, or a member of Congress (or by congressional staff acting on behalf of the member).
Your J-1 visa foreign residency waiver processing will largely depend on how well your application is presented to the DOS. How the information is presented can be the difference between approval and denial. This is why it is recommended to engage the service of an immigration expert.
VisaNation Law Group immigration lawyers are capable of verifying if the applicant meets the foreign residency requirements. If the J-1 holder wishes to seek a J-1 waiver, the immigration attorneys are able to assist them with the government documentation and supplementary material. We understand the extensions designated for each category and can advise you as to the appropriate course of action. You can reach out and book an appointment with a VisaNation Law Group J-1 lawyer today by filling out this consultation form.