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The Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement for J-1 and J-2 Visas

Generally speaking, individuals who arrive in the United States as exchange visitors under the J-1 and J-2 visas are required to return to their country of origin for a two-year period before they can apply for reentry under the same visa program. This applies to physicians, teachers, university students, professors engaged in research, au pairs, and others; under certain conditions, however, a waiver to this exit requirement can be obtained.

Section 212(e) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The U.S. State Department explains that some J-1 and J-2 visa holders find themselves unable to return to their countries of origin to meet the two-year foreign residence requirement. By not returning to their countries, J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors would have to apply for an adjustment of status, but only after obtaining a waiver formally approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The J-1 and J-2 visa holders subject to this requirement are:

– Those whose arrival in the U.S. was funded by a government agency or international organization. The financial aid can come from the exchange visitor’s own government, the U.S. or even the United Nations.

– Physicians and graduate medical students who received funding for educational purposes.

– Those who arrived specifically to receive specialized training in a field that will contribute to the development of their home countries. An example of this situation would be a Malaysian national who comes to acquire training in the field of Food Science.

The U.S. State Department lists five general situations that can become the basis for a recommendation of waiving the two-year foreign residency requirement. Two of the basis includes persecution and exceptional hardship; each situation is bound to present unique factors that are better off being discussed with a San Diego immigration attorney.

Individuals interested in extending their J-1 visa period should ask their attorneys about the Form DS-3035 J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application from the State Department as well as the Form I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The filing fees, methods of filing and potential benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. To schedule a free consultation with an expert immigration attorney from KS Visa Law in San Diego, call 858-874-0711 today.

April 2017
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