People who are exchange visitors to the U.S. may be here on a number of different types of visas. Individuals who hold a J-1 visa are sometimes required to physically return to their home countries for two years before applying to reenter the U.S. This requirement may be waived in certain situations.

Not all J-visas have the 2-year home residency requirement, and at times the U.S. Embassy incorrectly places a 2-year designation on the visa. The underlying reason for the 2-year residency requirement should be first evaluated in order to determine if the requirement was placed in error.

Approval of a J Visa Waiver
A J visa waiver may be obtained under several categories, including:

  • Persecution in your home country
  • Request by an interested U.S. Federal Government Agency
  • No objection statement
  • Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
  • Request by a designated state public health department or its equivalent

Marriage to a U.S. citizen does not automatically waive the requirement. An applicant for lawful permanent residence through marriage must still qualify under one of the waiver categories, or comply with the requirement, in order to obtain lawful residence. A waiver must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security, and by the Department of State.

Contact our office if you would like an evaluation of your J-visa 2 year requirement and relevant waivers.