J-1 Visas- Exchange Visitors:
Eligibility: The following individuals or entities will be eligible for a J-1 Visa.
- Foreign students participating in exchange programs to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills in arts, sciences and education.
- Professors, research scholars, bona fide trainees, short-term scholars, nonacademic specialists, foreign physicians, government visitors, international visitors, and summer students in a travel or work program.
- Individual has sufficient funds and is fluent in English.
Consulates are permitted to issue the visa at any time provided that the DS-2019 is valid. An exchange visitor may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the reported start date of an exchange visitor program.
Au Pair Program:
- Allows foreign youths to be placed with American host families who are looking for childcare. The DOS has expanded this program to include all nations except those lacking diplomatic relations with the U.S.
B-1 in Lieu of J-1:
- B-1 is applicable if visitors to the U.S. can have their travel funded by the U.S. government but do not fit within the J-1 category.
Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement:
- Some J visa holders are subject to the requirement that they return home after they complete their U.S. training before they are eligible to adjust their status, apply for an immigrant visa or apply for an H or L visa, or change their status inside the U.S.
- J visa holders who are subject to a 2-year foreign residence requirement will be:
- Individuals who were funded in part or completely by an agency of the U.S. or the government of his home country.
- Individuals who were involved in an area that was on the DOS skills list.
- Individuals who entered the U.S. or obtained their J status after January 10, 1977.
Waiver of 2-Year Requirement:
- Procedure: USCIS may grant a waiver following a favorable recommendation being made by the DOS to the USCIS. The DOS procedure to obtain the waiver is a four-part process as follows:
- The applicant must submit a Data Sheet to the Department of State/ Waiver Review Division with two stamped self-addressed envelopes and a fee.
- The DOS will send a case number and instructions for waiver application to the applicant. The instruction sheet varies depending on the nature of the waiver requested on the Data Sheet.
- Under INA §212(e), four different kinds of J-1 waivers exist. All four start with the filing of a Data Sheet. For two of the categories (persecution and hardship) the next step will be the filing of Form I-612 with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence location. There are two other categories, Interested Government Agency and No Objection, and they do not require a filing with the USCIS. The next step for these two categories is an application to the agency or the foreign government.
- The DOS reviews the application and forwards its recommendation to the USCIS with a copy to the applicant and the J-1 sponsor.
- Hardship and Persecution Cases: Waiver application is made to USCIS on Form I-612.
- If the USCIS denies a request before the referral to the DOS an appeal may be made to the AAO.
- USCIS Form I-612: This is used only for hardship and persecution waivers. The remaining two waivers, interested government agency and no objection do not begin with a filing to the USCIS and do not use the Form I-612 at any point in the process.
- Basis For Waiver:
- Possible Persecution: Applies to those who might be subject to persecution on the basis of race, political opinion or religion in their home country.
- Exceptional Hardship: Applicable in cases where removal from the U.S. would cause great hardship on USC/LPR spouse or child.
- No Objection Waiver: Applicable if the J country gives a no objection statement in reference to the applicant’s decision not to return home. This will not be available to foreign medical graduates unless they entered the U.S. as a J to observe, do research, teach or consult. Application should be made through the country’s embassy in the U.S.
- Request by U.S. Agency: Set in motion by a U.S. agency other than the DOS having an interest in the case. It must be shown that the granting of the waiver will be in the interest of the public, and that compliance with a 2-year return would be in conflict with a program or activity, which is of official interest to the agency.
International Medical Graduate: A Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) is eligible to obtain a waiver via a recommendation given by an interested federal or state agency with an interest in furthering the physician’s employment in a medically underserved area.
J-2 Visas- Family Members of J-1:
Eligibility: The following individuals will be eligible for a J-2 visa.
- Spouse and children of J-1 visa holders who want to visit the visa holder in the U.S.
- The spouse and children of J-1 visa holders who will accompany the foreign national to the U.S.
If the visa was obtained as a spouse or child of an applicant then they may be subject to the requirement after the applicant completes the program with the 2-year foreign residence requirement.
If the J-1 spouse has completed the 2-year foreign residence requirement then the J-2 spouse and children might not be subject to the requirement.
If the waiver has been granted to the J-1 visa holder, then the J-2 spouse and children might automatically receive the waiver.