If you are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, but you are not able to fulfill the requirement, you may apply to the Department of State, Waiver Review Division for a recommendation that USCIS grant a waiver under any one of the five applicable bases set forth in U.S. immigration law. Choose the one basis that you qualify for or applies to your situation.
Five Bases for Recommendation of a J-1 Waiver
1. No Objection Statement:
Your home country government may issue a No Objection Statement through its embassy in Washington, DC directly to the Waiver Review Division that it has no objection to you not returning to your home country to satisfy the two-year home-country physical presence requirement and no objection to the possibility of you becoming a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. The No Objection Statement may also be issued by a designated ministry in your home country’s government and sent to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy within that country. The U.S. Embassy would then forward it directly to the Waiver Review Division.
Important Notice: U.S. law does not permit foreign medical physicians who acquired exchange visitor (J-1) visa status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training to use this option.
2. Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency:
If you are working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. federal government agency, and that agency has determined that your departure for two years to fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement would be detrimental to its interest, that agency may request an Interested Government Agency Waiver on your behalf. The Interested Government Agency request must be signed by the head of the agency or his or her designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division.
Any U.S. federal government agency may request a waiver under this basis.
If you believe that you will be persecuted based on your race, religion, or political opinion if you return to your home country, you may apply for a persecution waiver. This waiver basis requires that you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of persecution.
4. Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor:
If you can demonstrate that your departure from the United States would cause exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child, you may apply for an exceptional hardship waiver. Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship. This waiver basis requires that you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship.
5. Request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program):
If you are a foreign medical graduate who obtained exchange visitor status to pursue graduate medical training or education, you may request a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement based on the request of a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, if you meet all of the following criteria. This waiver category is also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. You must:
- have an offer of full-time employment 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 and for at least three years.
Review the State Public Health Departments. Each department is allowed to request 30 such waivers per federal fiscal year. 10 of the 30 requests may be for exchange visitor physicians who will serve at facilities which may not be located within a designated health care professional shortage area but which serve patients who live within such a designated area. The state public health department will forward the Conrad State 30 Program request directly to the Waiver Review Division, if it agrees to sponsor you for such a waiver.
Conrad 30 J-1Waiver Program
The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 medical doctors to apply for a waiver for the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. See section 214(l) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA). The program addresses the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas. Each state has the ability to sponsor up to 30 physicians each year for J waivers. Almost all states sponsor primary care physicians, and a rapidly increasing number of states sponsor specialists.
Although each state has developed its own application rules and guidelines, the following program requirements apply to all J-1 medical doctors.
The J-1 medical doctor must:
- Agree to be employed full-time in H-1B non-immigrant status at a health care facility located in an area designated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or Medically Underserved Population (MUP). To find shortage areas nationwide, visit the HHS website.
- Obtain a contract from the health care facility located in an area designated by HHS as a HPSA, MUA, or MUP
- Obtain a “no objection” letter from his or her home country if the home government funded his or her exchange program
- Agree to begin employment at the health care facility within 90 days of receipt of the waiver, not the date his or her J-1 visa expires
See your state’s public health department website for specific details.
Do you have questions about J-1 Waiver?
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Department of Health and Human Services
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