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J Visas


J Visas (Exchange visitors) are issued pursuant to INA §101(a)(15)(J), 8 U.S.C. §§1101(a)(15)(J), 1182(e).

J Visas are issued to a person who is a professor or research scholar, short-term scholar, bona fide trainee or intern, college or university student, teacher, secondary school student, nonacademic specialist, foreign physician, international visitor, government visitor, camp counselor, au pair [22 C.F.R. §62.31], or summer student in a travel/work program who:

1. Has sufficient funds and is fluent in English.

2. Maintains sufficient medical insurance for accident and illness for participant and J family members in a minimum amount of $50,000 per accident or illness.

3. Has a residence abroad.

Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement

Certain exchange visitors are required to return to their home country or country of last residence upon completion of their U.S. training before they may apply for an immigrant visa, Adjustment Of Status (AOS), or Change of Status(C/S) to another None Immigrant Visa (NIV) status (except for change to A or G, or except for change to H-1B for physicians receiving waivers on the basis of a three-year waiver job). INA §§212(e), 214(l), and 248, 8 U.S.C. §§1182(e), 1184(l), and 1258; 22 C.F.R. §41.63. Friedberger v. Schultz, 616 F.Supp. 1315 (D.C. Pa. 1985). A foreign physician is not precluded from applying for an O visa, although he would still remain subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement. Letter, Bednarz, Chief, NIV Branch, Adjudications, HQ 214.42-C (Aug. 30, 1994), reprinted in 71 No. 39 Interpreter Releases 1360, 1376 (Oct. 7, 1994).

J visa holders subject to this 2-year foreign residence requirement are persons:

Whose participation "was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the government of the U.S. or by the government of his nationality or last residence";

Who at the time of admission or acquisition of status was engaged in a field which was on the DOS Exchange Visitor Skills List.

Who came to the U.S. or acquired J status after Jan. 10, 1977 to receive graduate medical education or training. INA §212(e), 8 U.S.C. §1182(e).

A person is subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement even if he or she obtained the J visa by fraud. See Espejo v. INS, 311 F.3d 976 (9th Cir. 2002); Matter of Park, 15 I&N Dec. 436 (1975).

Waiver of 2-year requirement pursuant to 8 C.F.R. §§212.7(c), 1212.7(c); 22 C.F.R. §41.63(a)(2)-(g).

USCIS can grant waiver of 2-year residency requirement upon favorable recommendation by DOS. See Dina v. Att'y Gen. of the U.S., 793 F.2d 473 (2d Cir. 1986); Silverman v. Rogers, 437 F.2d 102 (1st Cir. 1970) [DOS can veto hardship waiver by INS]; Matter of Tayabji, 19 I&N Dec. 264 (BIA 1985) [upholding rescission of AOS where DD granted waiver after DOS recommended denial].

Basis for Waiver

(1) Possible Persecution -Applicant(s) would be subject to persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion.

(2) Exceptional Hardship-Applicant's departure from U.S. would impose exceptional hardship on USC/LPR spouse or child.

(3) No-objection waiver pursuant to 22 C.F.R. §41.63(a)(3).

(4) Request by U.S. Federal Executive Agency pursuant to 22 C.F.R. §41.63(c); 9 FAM 40.202 N2.4.

(5) International Medical Graduates (IMGs)-INA §214(l), 22 C.F.R. §41.63(a)(3); 8 C.F.R. §212.7(c)(9); Memo, Pearson, Exec. Assoc. Comm. (HQADN70/21.1)(Oct. 4 1999), reprinted in 76 No. 39 Interpreter Releases 1504-08 (Oct. 11, 1999). An IMG may obtain a waiver through a recommendation issued by a state or federal agency interested in facilitating the physician's employment in a federally designated medically underserved area (HPSAs, MHPSA, MUA/P and PSA).

Contact Our Firm

To schedule an appointment with Los Angeles visa attorney Artem M. Sarian, contact Sarian Law Group, APLC. We have offices in Glendale and Los Angeles, California, to serve you.

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