J-1 Visa and Obtaining a Waiver of 212(e)

Foreign national physicians and research scholars may be eligible for J-1 Exchange Visitor status. All foreign national physicians pursuing graduate medical education or training in J-1 status are subject to a requirement that they return to their home country (or country of last residence) for two (2) years after completing a clinical J-1 program before they may be eligible for H-1B or L-1 status or permanent residence. In some instances, such foreign nationals may qualify for a waiver of the home residence requirement.

There are generally four (4) methods for obtaining a waiver:

  1. A no objection statement from the home country;
  2. A finding of hardship to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or child if required to return for two (2) years to the home country;
  3. A finding that the foreign national would be persecuted if returned to the home country; and
  4. A request by an Interested Government Agency.

It should be noted that U.S. immigration law precludes using a no objection statement as the sole basis for a waiver if the foreign national is a physician receiving graduate medical education. A waiver on the basis of a request by a state department of health in the United States, its equivalent, or an interested U.S. government agency is allowed. There are certain strict requirements that must be met in connection with a waiver request by a state department of health. Please contact one of our attorneys for additional information regarding this option.