J-1 Persecution Waiver - J1 Visa Waivers

J-1 Persecution Waiver

Many J1 visa holders must return to their home country for two years after their visa expires. This requirement, known as the two-year home country physical presence requirement, ensures that people who have studied in the United States bring the skills they learned back to their country of origin. This requirement means that those who hold a J-1 visa cannot receive a green card, change status n the U.S., or receive work or family-based visa status until the two-year requirement is fulfilled. 

However, the two-year requirement can be waived on five different conditions, one of which is persecution. 

Who is Subject to the 2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement?

If your J-1 program falls into any of the following categories, you are subject to the two-year requirement:

  • The program you’re participating in was funded in some way by the government of your home country or by the U.S. government
  • The skills you’ve developed through the program are needed in your home country
  • You’ve participated in medical training or education for doctors

If you meet the requirements for persecution (or any of the other four J-1 waiver conditions), you can apply to have the 2-year requirement waived. If approved, you won’t need to return to your home country and can continue living and working in the U.S.   

Understanding the Basis of Persecution

Of the five conditions for J-1 waivers, the basis of persecution can be challenging to prove. You must be able to provide compelling evidence that identifies the source of persecution you’d experience if you were to return to your home country. Some common sources of persecution that qualifies for a J-1 waiver include

  • Persecution from the government of your home country
  • Persecution from individuals due to your race, religion, lifestyle, economic hardship, medical or psychological conditions, or political beliefs
  • Persecution directed at an immediate relative, such as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child

The J-1 waiver applicant must provide evidence of persecution, which must come from either the home country’s government or a group the government can’t control. Since cases surrounding persecution are subjective, they must be looked at from the standpoint of: 

  1. The impact on qualifying family members if the J1 visa holder is forced to leave the U.S. for two years
  2. The impact of leaving the U.S. for two years will have on qualifying family members if they’re forced to return to the visa holder’s home country

Examples of Evidence You Can Provide to Support Your Case

During the application process, you’ll be required to provide clear evidence detailing how you or your qualifying family members would suffer persecution if you were to return to your home country for two years. Here are some examples of acceptable evidence that may support your case:

  • A written statement explaining your persecution claim and what you could experience if you were to return to your home country
  • Medical records and evaluations from doctors, psychologists, or other healthcare professionals
  • Government-issued documents regarding your ethnicity, nationality, or religion, such as a birth certificate or passport
  • Proof of your participation in a group or party membership or other affiliations
  • Photos and detailed affidavits from your close friends and relatives detailing how you’ve suffered persecution
  • Police reports regarding incidences of persecution you were involved in

Depending on your circumstances, there may be other types of evidence that you’ll be required to submit. Again, our immigration attorneys can help you determine which supporting documents best aid your visa waiver case.

Once you’ve submitted your application, it will take around three to four months to process it, depending on the circumstances of your case. After completing a review of your application, the Waiver Review Division will submit their recommendation to USCIS. You’ll also receive a copy of the recommendation and USCIS’s decision in the mail, so it’s crucial to ensure your contact information is up-to-date. 

Get Assistance with Your J1 Persecution Waiver

If you’d like to obtain a waiver based on persecution, it’s recommended to work with an immigration attorney. The lawyers at Ranchod Law Group can guide you through the eligibility criteria and J1 persecution waiver requirements. We’ll also help you prepare and submit a strong, well-documented application, which will significantly increase the chances that your waiver will be approved. Schedule a consultation today to learn how we can assist your case.