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J-1 Visa Waiver

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What is a j-1 visa waiver?

A J-1 visa is an exchange visitor visa that allows a foreigner to come to the US to participate in a work-study program. J-1 visas fall into the non-immigrant visa category. Some J-1 visas have a legal requirement that necessitates that the exchange visitor returns to their home country for at least two years after the completion of their work-study program. If an individual is unable to fulfill the two-year home country requirement, the foreigner must apply for a J-1 Visa Waiver. A J-1 Visa Waiver must be approved before the foreigner can adjust/change their status or secure a different visa.

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J-1 Visa Waiver Process

Follow these steps to help you with the J-1 Visa Waiver Process

Complete Online Application Form

The first step of the J-1 Visa Waiver process is to complete the online Form DS-3035 online at the dedicated US Department of State website. Once the application form is completed all pertinent information will download into a barcode and a waiver case number with additional instructions will be issued.

The applicant must print the online Form DS-3035 with that barcode. The barcode must be printed in black and white.
Once the form with barcode is printed, additional documents must be secured including legible copies of all Form DS-2019/IAP-66 ever issued to the applicant, two self-addressed, stamped envelopes; and the required application fee.

All of these documents will then be mailed to the Department of State J-1 Waiver division. Once the application is processed it will be sent on to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division

Submit Supporting Documents

The next step requires the submission of supporting documents sent to the Waiver Review Division by a relevant third party. The relevant third party that is supposed to submit the supporting documents depends on the grounds for the J-1 Visa Waiver.

A No Objection Statement must be submitted by the home country government third party. The applicant should contact the consular section of their home country’s embassy in the US to make the request. The home country’s embassy in the US must send the statement to the US. Dept. of State’s Waiver Review Division.

An interested US federal government agency must submit an Interested Government Agency Waiver, which takes the form of a letter, sent to the aforementioned Waiver Review Division.

USCIS must submit supporting documentation for an application based on claims of persecution or claims of exceptional hardship to a US citizen/LPR spouse or child. The applicant must therefore make their case regarding the potential persecution or hardship to USCIS, by sending them relevant documentation and evidence to back up these claims. USCIS will make a decision on the claims and will forward their decision to the Waiver Review Division.

And finally, a designated State Public Health Department (or equivalent) must submit documentation if the waiver is based on their request. The relevant public health department must submit a letter which states the medical exchange visitor should remain in the U.S. as a matter of public interest. They must submit this letter along with additional documentation the US Dept. of State’s Waiver Review Division.

Once the supporting documentation has been submitted, completing the waiver application, an applicant can then track the process of their application and check its status through the J Visa Waiver Online portal. If there are any missing documents, the portal will indicate. It generally takes one month after an application is submitted for the tracking and status check to become available online.

Processing Times and Final Determination

The processing tines for the application can vary depending on the grounds of the J-1 Visa Waiver. However, application processing times can run anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks in general. Timeframes for processing can extend beyond the time noted. The processing time for an application begins only when an application is complete. Expedited processing is available in urgent humanitarian cases or if there is significant US government interest.

J-1 Visa Waiver FAQs

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Cases are thoroughly considered before a decision is rendered. Once a denial is issued it cannot be appealed or reopened. However, you may apply for another J-1 Visa Waiver if you qualify under different grounds from you initial application. If you apply again based on a different basis, you must go through the entire application process again.

In most instances, you cannot/should not apply again for a J-1 Visa Waiver on the same basis as your original application. However, there is an exception to this. If you originally applied based on persecution, you may apply again on persecution grounds if recent developments are expected to result in a different outcome to the waiver decision. In such cases you must go through the entire application process again.

No, you do not have to have an attorney to go through the application process for a J-1 Visa Waiver. However, the visa waiver process can be quite complicated and requires multiple steps and agencies to finish the application and processes. An experienced immigration attorney can help you to ensure that you have the correct documentation and that you go through the process steps correctly.

Yes, J-2 wife and/or child secured their J-2 status as dependents on based on your J-1 visa. As such, they are subject to the same requirements and must also leave the US and return to your home country with you.