International Student and Scholar Services does not file waivers on behalf of individuals subject to the two year home residency requirement and can provide only limited information regarding the process. The waiver application process can take some time and will vary depending upon which waiver option is pursued. Once a waiver has been recommended by the State Department, no further extensions of the J status are possible. Individuals wishing to apply for waivers of the two-year home residency requirement are encouraged to review the following information and resources and to work with qualified immigration attorneys during this process.

Grounds for Getting a Waiver

Waivers of the J-1 two-year home residency requirement are available on the following bases:

  • No Objection Statement from home country: Essentially, the exchange visitor's home government writes a letter indicating they do not object to the individual's plans to obtain a waiver. The letter is typically issued by the country's embassy in Washington, D.C. and sent directly to the Waiver Review Branch of the U.S. State Department.
  • Interested U.S. government agency: In these cases, a U.S. government agency requests that the State Department recommend a waiver because the individual is working on something that it has determined to be in the interest of the government agency. Typically, in these applications, an employer follows the application procedures for the relevant government agency. These applications require considerable documentation and are quite complex.
  • State waiver program for foreign physicians practicing medicine in underserved areas.
  • Exceptional Hardship to U.S. citizen Spouse or Child: If the exchange visitor's U.S. citizen spouse or child will suffer exceptional hardship as a result of the departure from the U.S., he/she may request a waiver from USCIS by filing Form I-612 with USCIS. These applications require considerable documentation and are quite complex.
  • Persecution in home country: If the exchange visitor will be persecuted in the home country on the basis of his/her race, religion or political opinion, he/she may request a waiver from USCIS by filing Form I-612 with USCIS. These applications require considerable documentation and are quite complex.

The State Department maintains an excellent website with instructions on how to apply for a 212(e) waiver.

The Waiver Process

For the first three waiver options, the process is fairly straightforward:

  • Obtain a waiver case number by completing the J Waiver Online application (Form DS-3035). Completion of the online application will produce a waiver case number and a barcoded document that can be used to continue with the application. This can be accessed from the following web site:
  • Send the completed Form DS-3035 (with barcode), copies of all Forms DS-2019, and cashiers check for the $215 waiver application fee to the State Department.
  • Work with the home embassy, the interested government agency, or the state waiver program office to obtain the documentation needed for the no objection letter or for the government recommendation letter. These letters and recommendations are sent directly to the Department of State.
  • Wait for Department of State decision regarding waiver recommendation.
  • If the State Department approves the waiver recommendation, they will issue a recommendation letter and forward a waiver application to U.S. citizenship and Immigration Service which will formally adjudicate the waiver application and provide the official approval notice, if appropriate.