J1 Waiver for Physicians, Teachers & Scientists - J1 Lawyers

J-1 visa holders, and their dependents, who’re subject to INA §212(e) are required to return to their home country for two years, or must obtain a “J-1 waiver” before they can change or adjust their status. If you do not want to return home for the two-year “home country residence requirement,” you can apply for a waiver of the requirement under any one of following five grounds:

  1. Request by a Designated State Department of Health;
  2. Interested Government Agency (IGA)
  3. Persecution;
  4. No Objection Statement;
  5. Hardship.

If you are not on a J1 visa but need a hardship waiver, learn more about other hardship waiver options here.


J-1 visa holders who can demonstrate that their departure for two years would cause “exceptional hardship” to their United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child (“qualifying relatives”) may obtain a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the J1 Hardship Waiver

The benefits of the hardship waiver are that, if approved, the applicant can immediately apply for permanent residence or change of status rather than spending three (or five) years in H-1B status as may be required under the IGA wavier process. A physician would also not be limited to employment in underserved areas, but can take a position anywhere.

The disadvantages are that the outcome of the application, and the time to process it, is difficult to predict.

The hardship to the qualifying relatives in the event they were to go with the applicant to the home country, or in the event they were to remain in the United States, should be considered equally.

Requirements for a J1 Hardship Waiver

Typical hardships include medical hardship, psychological hardship, political and social conditions in the home country, and economic and career disruption which would impact the qualifying relative(s). Length of marriage, number of children, original nationality of the qualifying relative, and any past separation between the applicant and the qualifying relatives are also taken into consideration.

Mere separation and the attendant sadness that this involves is not enough to outweigh the public policy objectives of the J1 program.

Because the hardship waiver is not easy to obtain and is highly fact based and subject to discretionary considerations by adjudicating officers, waivers should not be submitted without careful preparation. An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine whether your waiver has a reasonable possibility of success.

To schedule a consultation with an Immigration Attorney, contact our office at (916) 613-3553 or at info@j1visawaiver.net.

Our Review

“Dear Kaushik Ranchod,
Thank you for expediting the process of my visa application. I am really impressed by how thorough and meticulous your preparation was – my visa came through earlier than the customary two weeks. Your personal attention to the case and the level of commitment is a rarity. Thank you so much!”


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“I had a good experience with my visa processing with Ranchod Law Group.
My J1 waiver paperwork was filed accurately & more importantly in a timely manner, considering the competitive nature in getting a waiver approval in the state of California.

All my queries were answered appropriately and satisfactorily.

During the filing of my H1 & my wife’s H4 too, there were no issues. The evidence needed by the USCIS was also furnished in a timely manner which resulted in my obtaining the approval notice successfully in a timely manner.

I look forward to continued collaboration with them on my green card filing & the future immigration matters. It has been a very enriching experience working with them.”

– Dr. Ranade


Call me, Kaushik Ranchod, at (916) 613-3553between 9:00 to 6:30 and say “tell me more about the Foreign Medical Graduate Immigration Process and what your firm can do to help me.”, or email me at info@j1visawaiver.net for your complimentary copy of my book.

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