Some J-1 exchange visitors are subject to the U.S. Department of State Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement INA 212(e) that requires them to return to their home country for two years at the end of their J-1 program. If you belong to one of the following categories, you are most likely subject to this requirement at the end of your J-1 program:
- You come from a country on the U.S. Department of State “skills list”
- You received funding from your home government or from the U.S. government through agencies, such as Fulbright
The Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement will not prevent you from reentering the U.S. with an F-1 student, B-1/B-2 (tourist) or J-1 student visa (or some other categories) in the future, but it will prevent you from getting H-1B non-immigrant employment or Permanent Residence status unless the 2 year requirement is either fulfilled or waived.
Applying for a Waiver
There are four categories in which a waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement may be granted. This information is taken from the U.S. Department of State.
- No objection waiver
- Interested U.S. government agency (IGA) waiver
- Fear of persecution waiver
- Exceptional hardship waiver
Tips for Applying for a Waiver
- The U.S. Department of State web site is updated regularly, so we recommend that you check it before actually submitting your waiver application.
- It is very important to follow all the instructions for the waiver application on that web site and mail documents in a timely manner.
- Make copies of all documents that you send for your records.
- Mail your documents using a method that will provide you with a record of the mailing, such as certified mail, express mail, or overnight mail.
- Make sure the address that you list on the form is a valid address. Waiver Division mail may not be forwarded.
- An extension of the J-1 program may continue to be obtained while a waiver request is pending as long as you are within the maximum period of duration for your J-1 program category. If and when the Waiver Review Division has made a favorable recommendation to the waiver request, no further extension will be processed, though you may complete the current J-1 program period. For this reason, you should time your application after your program has been extended to the maximum time available and while there is still plenty of time remaining in the program in case of delays in the waiver procedures.
No Objection Waiver
- Complete a Form DS-3035 J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application online or send it to the address specified on the U.S. Department of State web page. The preferred method for completing the DS-3035 is to submit it online, in which a case number is generated and assigned immediately. If you cannot complete the DS-3035 online, download the application, fill it in by hand and submit it. Applying for a waiver this way will take longer.
- Attach any documents you are instructed to enclose, such as two self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelopes, copies of all previous Forms DS-2019, and a cashier’s check or money order for the application fee payable to the U.S. Department of State.
- After you receive your case number, write the full case number on any document you submit as well as on the outside envelope of all future correspondence with the waiver division office. If you do not write the case number on all correspondence and on the outside of the envelope, the documents you submit will be returned to you.
- After you have received your case number, contact the embassy of your home country in Washington, D.C., and ask that a No Objection Waiver statement from your government be submitted directly by the embassy to the U.S. Department of State Waiver Review Division. Be sure to request that the embassy write your full case number on the “No Objection” statement and also on the outside of the envelope to be sent to the Waiver Review Division.
- Mail all the documents requested on the notice of your case number. You can monitor the status of your case by calling the recorded message line at: 202.663.1600 or 202.663.1225 or on the U.S. Department of State J-Waiver Division web site.
- At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation to give you a waiver of 212(e) directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bureau, and you will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address listed on your data sheet. The Mines ISSS will also receive a copy of this notice. If your application is denied, you will be notified directly.