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J-1 Visa - Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Foreign Residency Requirement on J-1 visa?

You are subject to a requirement that you return to your home country to share with your countrymen the knowledge, experience and impressions gained during your stay in the U.S. Unless the USCIS approves a waiver for this requirement, you must depart from the U.S. and live in your country of residence for two years before you are allowed to apply for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, or change to H or L nonimmigrant status.

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On what grounds is the Foreign Residency Requirement waived for
J-1 visa?

The Foreign Residency Requirement may be waived in the following instances:

  • 'No Objection' Letter: The foreign residency requirement may be waived provided your home country's government issues a 'no objection' letter to the U.S. State Department indicating that it does not object to the waiver grant
  • Exception: A waiver is generally not available to medical residents/interns who received medical training in the U.S.
  • Interested Government Agency Request (IGA): An IGA may request that the U.S. State Department waive the Foreign Residency Requirement. Both the U.S. State Department and the USCIS must agree to grant the waiver
  • Threat of Persecution: If you can establish that you will suffer persecution upon return to your home country, the foreign residency requirement will be waived. The threat of persecution needs to be based on:
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Political Opinion
  • Hardship: If complying with the Foreign Residency Requirements imposes exceptional hardship on your spouse or child, and the spouse or child is a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident
  • Designated State Health Agency Request: A designated State Health Agency or its equivalent may request a waiver on behalf of medical doctors who have been offered a full-time job with a health care facility serving an area with a shortage of medical professionals. In order to qualify for the waiver, the person must agree in writing to work at the facility for forty hours per week, for a minimum of three years and must begin work at the health care facility within ninety days of the waiver approval
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