J-1 VIsa Waiver Application Process for Physicians and other Aliens Subject to the 2-year Foreign Residence Requirement
A nonimmigrant temporarily enters the United States for a specific purpose. Exchange visitors are non-immigrants (J-1 status) that participate in the Exchange Visitor Program. This program, which is administered by the Bureau of Consular Affairs seeks to promote peaceful relations and mutual understanding with other countries through educational and cultural exchange programs. Accordingly, many exchange visitors entering the United States are subject to a requirement that they return to their home country to share with their countrymen the knowledge, experience and impressions gained during their stay in the United States. Unless USCIS approves a waiver for this requirement, exchange visitors must depart from the United States and live in their country of residence for two years before they are allowed to apply for an immigrant visa, Permanent Residency, or change to a new nonimmigrant status.
Under certain circumstances, certain J-1 Visa holders are eligible for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residency requirement. If approved, the J-1 holder may remain in the United States upon obtaining another nonimmigrant visa through a change of status application or an adjustment of status for Permanent Residency.
Under this method, a J-1 Visa holder must demonstrate with competent evidence that his return to his country will cause his U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child to suffer exceptional hardship or; that if required to return, he will be subjected to persecution due to race, religion, or political opinion.
No Objection Waiver
Here, the alien’s country provides a written statement to the director of the Bureau of Consular Affairs stating that it has no objection to a waiver. Physicians who entered the United States as exchange visitors to receive graduate medical education or training are not eligible for this waiver.
Interested Government Agency (IGA) Waiver
An interested Federal Agency, any State Department of Public Health or its equivalent sponsors a J-1 visa holder to work full time for three years in an area designated as having a shortage of health care professionals (HPSA). Waiver applicants sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs are not required to practice medicine in an area designated as having a shortage of health care professionals. Applicants must begin employment within 90 days of receiving the waiver.
In addition to the application for a J-1 Visa Waiver, an applicant must also obtain a case number from the U.S. Department of State. The application must be submitted by filing Form DS-3035 (J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application Form) along with supporting documentation and fee to the Department of State. This DOS number must be issued and provided to the governmental agency processing the J-1 Visa Waiver application before the waiver application is approved.