Do you qualify for a J-1 waiver as a foreign medical graduate? The answer is set forth in US immigration law. - J1 Visa Waivers
j1 and j2 Waivers

Do you qualify for a J-1 waiver as a foreign medical graduate? The answer is set forth in US immigration law.

By Kaushik Ranchod, Immigration Attorney

A lawyer is an authority in the “rule of law” – that is, what are the laws and how they may be applied in individual circumstances.  And after years of law school and practice in the application of my “trade”, it’s easy to take for granted the simple fact that my profession exists in the first place because of the “rule of law”.

It was a routine CNN news broadcast that recently brought this everyday reality into a new perspective.  Aung San Suu Kyi from Myamar (formerly Burma) emerged from house arrest after (15 out of the past 21) years.  She had been cut off from two-way communication with the public (including family and friends), punished for [the crime of] being an advocate for democracy.  It was these words to her supporters that grabbed my attention:  “They have treated me well on a personal basis. But they have not acted in accordance with the rule [of law]. . . . I don’t think any country can survive as a prosperous and dignified nation unless there is rule of law.”
Read the full article here.

That’s what I especially noticed: — she was not complaining about the way she individually had been treated by her ‘captors”, but she did point out that some of her other countrymen had not been so fortunate.  Her statement pointed out to me that “rule of law” is essentially a certain degree of certainty and predictability in how we will be treated by the “powers that be.”  And there’s a great advantage to getting ahead with your personal plans in life when each person will be treated the same as others under the laws of the country.

As a J1 waiver immigration lawyer, I am asked to predict what will happen in various circumstances for my clients who want to exercise their options under the immigration laws.  For instance, my foreign medical graduate clients may want to get a waiver of the requirement to return to their country of origin for two years after completing their resident/intern training.  Of course there are exceptions under this rule, one being, they get an offer from a government agency to practice in a medically underserved area (good for the underserved/good for them); a win-win situation for everyone.

However, when the rule is actually applied, there is a less likelihood of approval if the FMG (foreign medical graduate) does not meet all of the technical rules set for forth by the USCIS, and State Health Department (for Conrad 30 waivers).

Another factor that seems to weigh heavily towards denial of J1 no objection waivers and J1 hardship waivers is if the J1 visa applicant has received funding from any US agency.  See, e.g., WAIVERS OF INA 212(E) – Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the reason most applications are denied?

A. Applications are denied because the reasons given for requesting the waiver do not outweigh the program and foreign policy considerations of the exchange visitor program. For this reason waiver applications from exchange visitors who received U.S. Government funding are generally denied.

Sound like a tough stance to you?  Maybe, but, fortunately, it is based on the rule of law.

If you have questions regarding J1 waivers, and you want to consult an immigration lawyer who focuses on the J1, J2 waivers and the process of securing one, you can reach me at Ranchod Law Group at 800-753-1399 or

I’ve worked with a range of clients located across the country as well as those in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento California areas.

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