The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa foparticipants in exchange visitor programs sponsored by the Department of State. These programs include trainees, interns, college or university students, professors and research scholars, specialists, foreign medical graduates and summer work/travel students.
The two-year foreign residency requirement may be waived if proper proof of hardship is presented. A J1 waiver requires rigorous review by the Waiver Review Division.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
Ms. Bongi serves as a senior specialist for SHRM’s intern and trainee program and works with sponsors and participants to navigate the J-1 visa sponsorship process. She helps clients assemble their nonimmigrant visa application (Form DS-160) and prepare for the interview with a consular officer. This includes preparing documents such as the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019), passport and proof of financial support. It also involves demonstrating program eligibility and the intent to return home after completing the program.
She also assists with navigating the two-year foreign residence requirement. This requirement stipulates that certain exchange visitors must return to their country of origin or last permanent home for a period of two years after their completion of the program, unless they have a valid waiver or exception. Those with waivers must work closely with an experienced J1 Waiver Lawyer to ensure their applications are approved. This is especially important for people who have married a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse and wish to immigrate permanently.
If you do not plan to travel outside the United States, your J-1 visa can remain valid without a renewal. However, if you want to extend your stay or change your status to another type of visa, you need to apply for a waiver of the two-year home country residence requirement. A J-1 Waiver can be difficult to obtain, so it is best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney.
The first step in the waiver process is getting your home country to agree not to object to the waiver. You will need to provide proof of economic and social ties to your home country. You can also get a waiver if you are working on a project of interest to the government agency.
Once the DOS approves your waiver, it will send a recommendation to USCIS. The agency will then make the final decision. While the waiver process can be long and complicated, a good J-1 waiver lawyer will help you to avoid any pitfalls.
Immigration law is complex and making a mistake on one of the many required forms can be costly. Mistakes can also jeopardize the ability to maintain or extend J-1 visa status or result in a denial of the two-year home residency requirement waiver.
The most straightforward option is to obtain a no-objection waiver from your home government. This is an online form that requires you to answer several questions and provide a statement of reason.
A persecution waiver is another possibility, but this is more challenging to prove. It requires a detailed statement of why you fear being persecuted in your home country for reasons such as your race, religion, political opinion, or membership in a social group.
A J-1 visa waiver attorney can help you determine the best waiver option for your situation and then prepare and file the necessary forms. The attorney can also assist with other issues related to your employment including moonlighting and transferring work locations.
Some J-1 visa holders may bring their spouses and children with them to the United States. They will need to be sponsored by a designated sponsor organization and obtain Form DS-2019.
In order for some J-1 visa holders to transition to nonimmigrant visas like H or L visas or even lawful permanent residency, they must first satisfy a two year foreign residence requirement. This can be difficult for individuals who wish to move with their spouse or children.
A qualified J-1 Visa Lawyer can help you determine if you qualify for a waiver of the two-year requirement. There are several statutory bases that can be used to qualify for the waiver, including no objection letters, extreme hardship or persecution. The experienced J-1 waiver lawyers at VisaNation can assist you with determining which base is the most appropriate for your situation. They can also help you prepare the necessary supporting documents, such as a country conditions report or proof of threats or persecution in your home country.