THE TWO-YEAR FOREIGN RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT
PERTAINING TO EXCHANGE VISITORS ON THE J-1 VISA
Information from the State
Department about J-1 waiver is available here
Exchange visitors may be subject to the two-year foreign residence
requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,
as amended, for one or more of the following reasons:
- 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.
- The education, training, or skill they are pursuing in this country
appears on the Exchange
Visitor Skills List (1997 Amendment) for their country.
- 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.
1. "No Objection" statement from the home government
Note: 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.
Note: 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.
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
Note: The law permits only medical doctors to apply for a waiver on
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 who 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
Resources for Foreign Physicians
J-1 Alien Physician program for foreign physicians:
Overview of the J-1 visa waiver program:
H1-B visas for foreign doctors:
Educational commission for foreign medical graduates:
Practicing medicine in the United States:
U.S. state-by-state physician licensing requirements:
Contemporary challenges and opportunities for international medial graduates in American medicine:
Requirements for international medicinal graduates at UCDHS:
UCLA international medicinal grduate program: