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Applying for a Waiver of the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Exchange visitors may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. They received funding from the United States Government, their own government, or an international organization in connection with their participation in the Exchange Visitor Program.
  2. The education, training, or skill they are pursuing in this country appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List (1997 Amendment) for their country.
  3. They acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

Exchange visitors who are subject to, but do not wish to comply with the two-year home country residence requirement, may apply for a waiver of that requirement under any one of the five applicable grounds provided by the United States immigration law.


Applicable Grounds for a J-1 Visa Waiver

  1. "No Objection" statement from the home government
    The law precludes use of this option by medical doctors listed in "c" above. The exchange visitor’s government must state that it has no objection to the exchange visitor not returning to the home country to satisfy the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and remaining in the U.S. if he or she chooses to do so.

  2. Request by an interested (U.S.) Government Agency, or IGA
    If an exchange visitor is working on a project for, or of interest to, a U.S. Federal Government Agency, and that agency has determined that the visitor’s continued stay in the United States is vital to one of its programs, a waiver may be granted if the exchange visitor’s continued stay in the United States is in the public interest. For applications on behalf of foreign physicians, who agree to serve in medically underserved areas, please refer to Federal Register Volume 62, No. 102 of May 28, 1997.

  3. Persecution
    If the exchange visitor believes that he or she will be persecuted upon return to the home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, he or she can apply for a waiver.

  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
    If the exchange visitor can demonstrate that his or her departure from the United States would cause extreme hardship to his or her United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child, he or she may apply for a waiver. (Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.)

  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health or its equivalent
    The law permits only medical doctors to apply for a waiver on this basis. Pursuant to the requirements of Public Law 103-416, of October 25, 1994 and Public Law 107-273, of November 2, 2002, foreign medical graduates who have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, and agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of receiving such waiver, and who sign a contract to continue to work at the health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and not less than three years, may apply for a waiver. Each state is allowed thirty waivers per federal fiscal year. Five of the thirty requests may be specialists who can practice medicine outside of Health and Human Services designated health shortage areas.


Procedures for Waiver Applications

To apply for a recommendation for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement under any of these bases, applicants must complete the following steps:

Step 1

The Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application, Form DS-3035 must be used. No other version of the DS-3035 will be accepted. Upon completing the Form DS-3035 online, your information will be downloaded into a barcode and you will be issued immediately a waiver case file number and further instructions. Once you have completed this online form, you must print and mail in your DS-3035 Application with barcode, and payment as explained below. Please note that the barcode must be printed in black and white only.

  • Two self-addressed stamped legal-size envelopes (S.A.S.E.) and a cashier's check or money order for US $215, made payable to the U.S. Department of State to:

Postal Service
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P.O. Box 952137
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137

Courier Service
U.S. Department of State
Waiver Review Division
(Box 952137)
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200


Please Note:

  • ONLY APPLICATIONS USING THE ONLINE FORM DS-3035 WILL BE ACCEPTED. Applications with other versions of Form DS-3035 will be returned to the sender without processing fee. THE $215 PROCESSING FEE IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
  • Please write the applicant's full name, date of birth and Social Security Number, if any, on the cashier's check or money order. Please do not send cash.
  • Remittances must be drawn on a bank or other institution located in the U.S. and made payable in U.S. currency to the U.S. Department of State.
  • If the applicant resides outside the U.S. at the time of application, remittance may be made by bank international money order or foreign draft drawn on an institution in the U.S. and made payable to the U.S. Department of State in U.S. currency.

Your application must be sent to the lock-box address at the Waiver Review Division. If you fax or mail your application to the Waiver Review Division, it will NOT be processed.

Step 2

It is your responsibility to submit all requested documents and ensure that required documents are sent on your behalf by third parties. The Waiver Review Division will not follow up on documents that have not been received. Rather, it will be your responsibility to ensure that your file is complete. Once you have your waiver case number, you should check on the status of your application by visiting the J Visa Waiver Status Check website. If you notice an error regarding your waiver case, you should contact Public Inquiries at (202) 663-1225.

Some documents, such as "No Objection" statement from EV's home government, an IGA request from an Interested Federal Government Agency, a Conrad request letter from a state public health department, or CIS' finding of exceptional hardship or persecution (on Form I-613) will be submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division by the responsible third party. However, you, the waiver applicant, must initiate the process by requesting such documents directly from the responsible third party or by applying directly with these other agencies. And, if the third party agrees, your other required documents, such as your DS-2019 or IAP-66, may be forwarded to the Waiver Review Division through the third party.

Step 3

At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. You will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address you listed on your Form DS-3035, or the most current address we have for you if you reported a change of address.

USCIS has the responsibility for making the final determination on your waiver request. USCIS will notify you directly, whether your waiver application is denied or approved.

ANY TIME THERE HAS BEEN AN ADDRESS CHANGE PLEASE NOTIFY THE WAIVER REVIEW DIVISION OF THE CHANGE. IF WE DO NOT HAVE YOUR MOST CURRENT ADDRESS, WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE WE NEED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM YOU TO PROCEED WITH YOUR CASE, OR YOU MAY NOT RECEIVE THE RESULTS OF THE WAIVER REQUEST.

Please do not fax or contact the Waiver Review Division directly regarding your waiver case. The Division does not have the manpower to respond to such inquiries. You should contact the Public Inquires Division, which was created to respond to inquiries from the public, regarding your waiver case, (202) 663-1225.