At Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. our Dallas, Frisco, and North Texas lawyers welcome the challenge of J-1 waivers, first analyzing whether a two-year foreign residence requirement expressed in an exchange visitor’s U.S. immigration-related documentation is actually in fact correct. If it is not, we represent such individuals in obtaining clarification and correction so that they may move on with other U.S. immigration plans they may have. If the two-year foreign residence requirement does apply, we next move on to strategic planning and designing a comprehensive solution for establishing eligibility for a waiver. We work hard to find the smoothest path for clients in this difficult situation, and we welcome you to contact us regarding the U.S. immigration law benefits available in your specific circumstances.
Here are some key factors to keep in mind relating to J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitors and waivers of the two-year foreign residence requirement. J-1 exchange visitors include bona fide students, scholars, trainees, teachers, professors, research assistants, specialists, leaders in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, and others, coming temporarily to the U.S. to participate in a program designated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). J-1 exchange visitors may enter the U.S. for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training. Those coming to receive graduate medical education are subject to special requirements.
Some J-1exchange visitors are subject to what is known as the two-year foreign residence requirement. J-1 nonimmigrants may become subject to this requirement in one of three ways: (1) participation in the J-1 program was financed, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the government of the U.S. or by the government of the country of the person’s nationality or last residence (“government financing”); (2) at the time the person became a J-1 exchange visitor, the person was a national or resident of a country which DOS had designated as clearly requiring the services of persons engaged in the J-1 nonimmigrant’s field of specialized knowledge or skill (“skills list”); or (3) at the time the person became a J-1 exchange visitor, he or she had come to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education.
J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement may not apply for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, an H specialty worker visa , or an L intracompany transferee visa until the person has resided and been physically present in the country of his or her nationality or last residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the U.S.
The two-year foreign residence requirement can be waived in qualifying cases including those where: (1) the foreign country of the person’s nationality or last residence has provided a written statement establishing that it has no objection to the waiver (“no objection statement”); (2) there is a request by an interested U.S. Federal Government Agency; (3) the J-1 visa holder cannot return to his or her country of nationality or last residence because he or she would be subject to persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion (“persecution”); (4) there would be exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor (“exceptional hardship”) if the J-1 nonimmigrant were required to comply with the two-year foreign residence requirement; or (5) there is a request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent in the case of those exchange visitors who came to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education.