J-1 Waivers.


Some J-1 professionals are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, and require a waiver before being able to apply for an H-1B, or adjust status to a permanent resident. Options for waivers include:

IGA Waivers for physicians:

  • Agreeing to work for three years in a specific area:
    • Multiple agencies can support such an application (state, VA, HHS etc.)
    • The employment must be full-time
    • The location must be underserved, or in certain situations must show that the patients reside in underserved areas (flex waiver)
    • The physician must work in H-1B status for the three years

Hardship waiver:

  • Must have a qualifying relative (either US permanent resident or US citizen spouse or child)
  • Must establish that there will be extreme hardship to the qualifying relative in fulfilling two-year home residency requirement

Persecution waiver:

  • Must establish a well- founded fear of persecution in the home country on account of one of the following:
    • Religion
    • Race
    • Political opinion

Hardship and persecution waivers can be pursued simultaneously with IGA waivers, however the waiver that is approved first controls. Under very limited circumstances will the DOS consider a second waiver application when a waiver is already approved.

**Note that only IGA waiver beneficiaries can change status to H-1B. An applicant who has had a hardship or persecution waiver approved, will have to exit the US to obtain future status such as an H-1B or O-1. The beneficiary may avoid having to leave the US if he/she is in a position to adjust status.

No objection waiver (not available for physicians who received clinical training):

Must obtain a “no objection statement” from the home country’s embassy, which in turn is forwarded to the Department of State. The Department of State will typically approve the waiver.

Radu C. Vasilescu

March 2021

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