J-1 Visa Waivers

As we have written about in one of our previous entries, the J-1 nonimmigrant visa is issued to professors, scholars, teachers, secondary school students and other individuals who are eligible, as listed on U.S. Department of State website. This is a nonimmigrant visa which is available to people whose foreign country has elected to participate in a specialized exchange program in the United States.

J-1 Visas are Temporary in Nature

The basis of the J-1 is to allow its holder to participate in an eligible exchange program while in the U.S., then to have them return to their foreign country once the program expires. As is common, a lot of J-1 visas are issued with a “foreign residency requirement.” The foreign residency requirement of the J-1 visa requires to visa holder to return to their foreign country for a period of two years before they are eligible to reapply for another nonimmigrant visa or a green card.

What is a J-1 Visa Holder is Eligible for a Green Card?

If the J-1 holder is eligible for a green card, they need to check their visa to see if they are subject to the foreign residency requirement. If they are subject to the requirement, they will need to discuss their eligibility for a J-1 visa waiver with an immigration lawyer. A J-1 waiver is sent to the U.S. Department of State, where a decision will be made on whether the applicant can be permitted to bypass the residency requirement. Statutorily, there are a few reasons for why a waiver may be granted:

  • Exceptional Hardship on U.S. citizen/Green Card spouses and dependents;
  • Persecution faced in home country;
  • Obtaining a “no objection” statement from foreign country;
  • Sponsoring agency requests the waiver.

What Happens After a Waiver is Accepted?

Once a J-1 visa waiver has been granted, the individual would be eligible to go through the family-based green card process in order to adjust their status to a permanent resident. Consider setting up a consultation with an immigration lawyer at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.

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