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J-1 waiversU.S. law requires that J-1 exchange visitors spend time in their home country after their exchange program ends. And for many reasons, J-1 visitors often want to stay in America after their program ends, and that means securing J-1 waivers. But since we’re talking about United States immigration law, you know that applying for J-1 waivers will involve a complex, sometimes always confusing process. The best immigration lawyers, like our St. Louis immigration attorneys, deal with questions about J-1 waivers constantly. Questions like…What’s the “Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement”?According to the U.S. Department of State website:

“Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e).”

How do I know if the physical presence requirement applies to me?
If in doubt, assume that it does. If you want an official answer, you must make a written request to the Department of State. And remember, if the requirement applies to you, it almost certainly applies to any J-2 dependents, including your spouse and children.

What are J-1 waivers?
Visitors who secure J-1 waivers are free from the obligation to return to their home country.

How do I qualify for a waiver? How do I apply for J-1 waivers?

There are five ways to qualify for a waiver:

    • No Objection Statement: Your home government can issue a “No Objection” statement, which officially states that they are willing to waive the requirement.
    • Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency: If you are working with an agency, they can request a waiver for you.
    • Persecution: Afraid that you will be persecuted upon your return home? Then find an immigration lawyer to help file a persecution waiver.
    • Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. Citizen Spouse or Child: Sadly, “mere separation” itself is not considered exceptional hardship. But if you can demonstrate that your leaving would cause significant harm, you may qualify for a waiver.
    • Request by a Designated State Public Health Department: If you’ve been offered a job with certain health care facilities, you may qualify for J-1 waivers.

You can apply for waivers through the DoS website, or find federal immigration law attorneys to help you through the process.

My J-1 waiver application was already denied, can I appeal?
Unfortunately, you cannot appeal at this time. There’s one exception to this rule: if you applied for a waiver based on persecution or exceptional hardship and you have new evidence related to your case.

What are the chances my application will be accepted?
Because of the complexity of immigration law and the unique circumstances surrounding every applicant’s personal journey, there’s no way to answer this question. Remember that as of 2012, 41 million immigrants lived in the U.S., and an average of 1,001,715 green cards are issued each year. Not only that, but America is home to 20% of all international migrants, and so the regulations and bureaucracy governing immigration laws are vast and complicated. If you want to improve your chances of successfully applying for J-1 waivers, consider contacting top immigration lawyers for help.

This FAQ is not meant to function as or replace official legal advice.

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FAQ: J-1 Waivers, No Objection Statements, and More Pressing Questions