J-1 2-Year Home Residence Waiver

In certain circumstances, the holder of a J visa will be subject to section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which is commonly referred to as the 2-year home residence requirement. The 2-year home residence requirement also applies to the dependent of the J-1 visa holder.

If a person is subject to the 2-year home residence requirement, that person will not be permitted to obtain an H visa, an L visa, or Green Card unless/until they have lived in their home country for 2 full years, or unless/until they have obtained a waiver of this requirement. There are five different kinds of waivers:

  • No Objection Waiver: The foreign national obtains a letter from his/her government, confirming that the government has no objection if the foreign national remains in the U.S. rather than fulfilling the 2-year home residence requirement.
  • Interested U.S. Government Agency Waiver: A U.S. government agency with an interest in the foreign national will request that the 2-year home residence requirement be waived.
  • Exceptional Hardship Waiver: This waiver is available to J visa holders who have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child and can prove the J visa holder’s absence from the U.S. would cause an exceptional hardship to the life of his/her spouse or child.
  • Fear of Persecution Waiver: This type of waiver is very similar to filing an affirmative asylum in which the applicant needs to show returning to the home country is not safe because she or he will be subject to persecution based on her or his race, religion, or political opinions.
  • Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or Its Equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program): This option is available to foreign medical graduates who meet the following criteria:
    • have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health-care professional shortage area or at a health-care facility which serves patients from such a designated area;
    • agree to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving a waiver; and
    • sign a contract to continue working at that health-care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and for not less than 3 years.

Obtaining waivers of the 2-year home residence requirement is not easy, and depending on the type of waiver, it could involve interaction between several government agencies. We have the experience and expertise to assist you in obtaining these waivers and would gladly help you through this process.