J1 Visa Waiver

Exchange or J1 student visa
What is a J1 visa?

The J1 visa waiver classification is for exchange visitors or students. This visa is available to those who participate in a government approved exchange program. The program is generally available to teach, study, observe, conduct research, consult, receive training, or receive graduate medical education or training. The visa program may or may not be paid.

How do I apply for a J1 visa?

The first step for a J1 visa application is to obtain a certificate of eligibility from your sponsoring agency. They can help you through the J1 visa process. The eligibility form will establish the duration of the program, the start date and the end date. You can then apply for a J1 visa through the US Department of State at a US embassy or consulate.

The wait time for an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate may vary. Once approved, you can enter the United States no more than 30 days before your program start date. Depending on the program and the needs of the sponsor, your sponsor may obtain an extension of the program.

Time limits vary depending on the type of program. For example, training may be an 18 months program, interns 12 months, scholars and professors up to three years, medical residents up to seven years, students up to 18 months of post-graduate work authorization (post-doctoral work 36 months) and must be enrolled full-time.

Doctors who seek training in the U.S. must be admitted to a medical residency or fellowship program and obtain sponsorship from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

Yes. J1 visa holders are usually required to return home for two years before switching to another visa. Since this is an exchange program, the program requires the visa holder to return home with the knowledge and experience obtained in the U.S. This two-year requirement is usually listed on the visa itself. If you are not sure whether your J1 visa has this requirement, just look at the visa stamp on your passport.

  • Exchange Program funded by the government – if you participated in a program funded in whole or in part by a U.S. government agency, your home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. government or your home country’s government.
  • Program for specialized knowledge or skill – program involving an area of specialized knowledge designated as necessary for further development of your home country and appears on the https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange/waiver-of-the-exchange-visitor/exchange-visitor-skills-list.html for your home country.
  • Graduate Medical Education/Training – program to receive graduate medical education or training.

The J1 visa waiver removes the requirement that you return home for two years after the J1 visa expires.

If your J1 visa has the two-year home-country physical presence requirement as explained above, you will need a waiver to remain in the United States.

What is the basis for the J1 visa waiver?

You may be able to obtain a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement based on:

Your home country would have to issue this statement through the embassy in Washington, DC.

This applies to people that work on a project for the U.S. federal government and that the departure from the U.S. would be detrimental to its interest.

This applies to people that are persecuted in their home country based on race, religion, or political opinion.

This applies to people that have established a family relationship while in the U.S. A J1 visa holder may have married and had children during their exchange program. If that is the case, then your U.S. family may suffer from the separation caused by the two-years requirement.

This program is for foreign medical graduates that obtained an exchange visitor status to pursue graduate medical training or education. To qualify, you must: have a full-time employment offer 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, for not less than three years.

If your J1 visa has the two-year home-country physical presence requirement as explained above, you will need a waiver to remain in the United States.

A waiver to the U.S. government is a difficult task since it requires numerous pieces of evidence to make a strong case. The type of evidence will be different in each case based on the individual circumstances. A qualified immigration attorney is best positioned to present all that evidence on your behalf and make a strong argument for you.

Remember that the officers have discretion over each case, and you only have one opportunity to prove your case. Therefore, you want to submit a strong case the first time around.


The J1 Waiver Process

The J1 waiver process is different depending on the type of J1 waiver you seek.  An immigration attorney can assess your individual situation and recommend the best J1 waiver process for you.

How Immigration Universe Can Help

Our immigration lawyers have experience with J1 waiver process. We are well versed in the law and we create strategic solutions to help you win.  Our immigration attorneys prepare your case with your future in mind.  We anticipate any issues that may arise, and we help you have a successful waiver application.

Let’s talk about your immigration case. Contact us today and speak to an immigration lawyer.