A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More than 6,000 Waivers Granted to J-1Visa Holders in FY2010

The U.S. State Department reports recently that it has granted more than 6,000 waivers to J-1 visa holders who are subject to the foreign residence requirement in Fiscal Year 2010.  Only 227 waiver applications were denied during FY2010.  A majority of the waiver applications were based on the “No Objection Statement” issued by the country of origin.

The United States established the J-1 visa classification to allow foreigners who intend to participate in a cultural exchange program to enter the U.S. as exchange visitors.   Some common purposes for the J-1 visa include teaching, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.  The U.S. Department of State designates certain public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors to implement the Exchange Visitor Program.  Examples of exchange visitors include: professors or scholars, research assistants, students, trainees, teachers, specialists, nannies/au pairs, camp counselors, etc.  The application process is started by obtaining a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (formerly known as an IAP-66) from the sponsoring agency.   

There are many advantages of participating in the Exchange Visitor Program including cultural and knowledge exchange. There is also no cap imposed on the number of J visas, unlike the H-1B Program.  However, for certain J-1 visitors, they are subject to the Section 212(e) foreign residence requirement of the Immigration Act.  Generally speaking, there are three categories of J-1 visa holders who are subject to the residence requirement:
    • Applicants who have obtained their J-1 status through programs financed either in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or their home country government.
    • Applicants whose specialized knowledge or skill is in short supply in their home country
    • Applicants who have received graduate medical education or training in the U.S.
    If a foreigner is subject to this requirement, before she is allowed to change their immigration status in the U.S. to another classification or apply for a visa to return to the U.S., she must first return to their country of origin or last residence and live there for two years.  The only exception to this requirement is to apply for a waiver under Section 212(e).  There are six bases for applying for such a waiver.  For Fiscal Year 2010, the numbers of waivers granted and denied for each basis are as follows.  The numbers show that the “No Objection Statement” was the most popular type of waiver while the “Interested Government Agency” waiver applications enjoyed the highest rates of grant. 

    TYPES OF WAIVER
    Granted
    Denied
    Total
    No Objection Statement
    4,786
    155
    4,941
    Exceptional Hardship
    213
    65
    278
    Persecution
    24
    1
    25
    Interested Government Agency- Physician
    70
    0
    70
    Interested Government Agency- Other
    165
    6
    171
    State Department of Health
    829
    0
    829
    TOTAL
    6,087
    227
    6,314

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