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Exchange Visitors (J Visas)

Exchange Visitors may participate in various activities as teaching, studying, medicine, observing, research, and training. An important criteria is that the training may be of use in the exchange J visitor’s own country.

J visa holders often have a home residency requirement, when they complete their U.S. training, for a 2 year period before they can apply for permanent residence or for an H or L visa.

A J visa alien is subject to the 2 year foreign residence requirement when:

(1) He/she has been financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an
agency of the U.S. or by the alien’s government or by the place of last residence; or

(2) was engaged in an occupation on the Department of State’s skills list for the
alien’s country, namely, that the alien’s training skills obtained in the U.S. are
needed in the alien’s country; or

(3) the J visa holder is an alien who has come to the U.S. to receive graduate
medical education or training.


To obtain a Waiver, a J visitor must apply to the Department of State/Waiver Review Division based on one of the following:

Persecution or Hardship or that an interested government agency may provide a No Objection Letter to be submitted to the Department of State by the J’s Foreign Ministry. The State Department will review the Waiver application to make a positive recommendation.

Persecution may be based on race, religion or political opinion. Hardship requires proof of exceptional hardship to a spouse or to children. The Department of State may consider issues such as economic, physical, psychological, loss of employment, health and education.

Waivers are not normally available to foreign medical graduates or to j holders who have been given direct or indirect funding by the U.S. government or the J’s government. Repayment of received funds may facilitate overcoming a denial of a Waiver. A request by a U.S. agency requires proof that the Waiver is

needed because the J’s contribution is integral or vital to a program of national importance. For clinical doctors an offer to work in a veteran’s hospital or a rural health clinic or a mental health facility or in a medically underserved areas may form the basis for a Waiver.

If you need help or advise, call us at (212)944-9420

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