J-1 Visa: J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Information (2023)

Q: How much is the application processing fee?

A: The processing fee is $215 and must be paid with an U.S. currency cashier’s check or a postal money order drawn on a U.S. financial institution.

Q: Where can I obtain a “no objection” statement?

A: In order to obtain a “no objection” statement, you should contact the consular section of your home country’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

Q: When do I have to submit the “no objection” statement?

A: Once you receive your case number from the Department of State, you should have your home country’s embassy submit the “no objection” statement.

Q: I am a foreign medical graduate sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.Can I apply for a no objection waiver from my home country?

A: No.

Q: Can I appeal a denial of a waiver application based on “no objection” from my home country?

A: No. Due to the extensive consideration given to waiver applications, it is a policy of the Waiver Review Division that “no objection” statement applications will not be reconsidered.

Q: When may I start the no objection Process?

A: Each home country has a different policy regarding when to initiate the no objection. For example, the Chinese Consulates requires that the individual be in a J-1 program for a minimum of one year before requesting a Waiver Form.

Q: How long does the no objection process take?

A: The length of the no objection process depends on your particular home country. Some countries process the letter quickly and provide you with a response in a few months, other require up to six (6) months for a no objection determination. According to the State Department’s website, the processing time for a no objection waiver is 6-8 weeks, once ALL documents have been submitted to the State Department.

Q: Do you handle no objection waivers?

A: No, Z&A does not handle no objection waivers.

Q: What is an IGA Waiver?

A: An IGA Waiver is obtained through sponsorship of an Interested Government Agency (IGA). Generally, the potential sponsoring IGA is a U.S. government agency that financially supports your program or has a strong interest in your area of research or study. An effective way to identify an IGA is to trace your program funding. For a list of potential IGAs, please click here.

Q: Which U.S. government agencies are eligible to apply for the IGA waiver for foreign medical graduates?

A: Appalachian and Delta Regional Commissions, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Interior for Indian Reservations. Foreign medical graduates may also apply through an individual State's department of health that participates in the Conrad State 30 program.

Q: Which U.S. government agencies are eligible to apply for the IGA waiver for foreign exchange visitors?

A: For an extensive list of Interested Government Agencies, please click here.

Q: When is a good time to begin an IGA Waiver application?

A: Timing is very important for IGA Waivers. Usually, an IGA waiver is initiated towards the latter stage of the individual's program. For example, a J visiting researcher or professor program may last for three (3) or more years. In this example, the IGA Waiver should be initiated at the end of year two.

Q: Why should I wait until the latter stages of the program?

A: You should wait until the latter stages of the program's duration for three (3) reasons. First, the basis for your IGA is the claim that you are an important part of the research program and your anticipated absence, due to the limited duration of the J-1 program, will jeopardize the research project. If there is more than one year remaining in your J-1 program, this point is hard to argue because the research project may be completed within the year. Second, time is necessary for you to publish articles which provide e necessary supporting evidence for your application. Third, you may need time to become acquainted with your project colleagues who will be writing recommendation letters on your behalf.

Q: How long does an IGA Waiver take?

A: You must first obtain a case number (which can take about a month). The amount of time required to obtain the IGA recommendations depends on each particular IGA. After the IGA recommendations are received, the State Department then reviews the case (4-8 weeks). The State Department then forwards its recommendation to the appropriate USCIS Service Center. After a review, the USCIS service center should issue the final approval. An adjustment of status application (Form I-485) may be issued with just the letter of recommendation from the State Department. Different USCIS service centers have different review processing times. Please click here for more information on Processing Times.

Q: What should I do if my J-1 waiver is in progress but my status is about to expire?

A: Z&A offers a total solution tailored to your unique situation. Please for more details.

Q: Can you apply for both an IGA and a No Objection Letter simultaneously?

A: Yes. But you will need to submit a separate J-1 Waiver Recommendation Application (Data Sheet) to the U.S. State Department for each waiver sought and pay a separate processing fee.

Q: How much do you charge for an IGA Waiver?

A: For more information about our Attorney's Fees, please click here.

Q: My time to process an IGA Waiver or No-Objection Letter has run out. What should I do?

A: First, you should request that your program sponsor extend your program to the maximum program duration. If you are about to reach the maximum duration period, you should consider an F-1 program and obtain Form I-20. Z&A can help you change to F-1 status via a Third Country Visa. For information about Third Country Visas, please click here. In the alternative, if an employer is willing to sponsor you for an O-1 Visa, you may apply for an O-1 Visa via the Third Country Visa process as well. For information about O-1 Status, please click here.

Q: What forms do I need to fill out for a waiver based on fear of persecution if I return to my home country?

A: Two forms must be completed: Form I-612 must be filed with the USCIS and Form DS-3035 to the Department of State.

Q: Should Form I-612 be submitted before of Form DS-3035?

A: You may either file both forms at the same time or file Form DS-3035 after the USCIS has approved Form I-612.

Q: Can one submit a wavier based on both fear of persecution and exceptional hardship?

A: No. Those two types of waivers should never be combined.

Q: Can I appeal a denial by the USCIS of an application based on fear of persecution?

A: Yes. You can file for reconsideration with the USCIS.

Q: What is the processing time for waivers based on fear of persecution?

A: According the State Department’s website, a fear of persecution waiver may take 3 to 4 months once all necessary documents have been submitted.

Q: What forms do I need to fill out for a waiver based on exceptional hardship if I return to my home country?

A: Two forms must be completed:, Form I-612 must be filed with the USCIS and Form DS-3035 to the Department of State.

Q: Should Form I-612 be submitted before of Form DS-3035?

A: You may either file both forms at the same time or file Form DS-3035 after the USCIS has approved Form I-612.

Q: Can I appeal a denial by the USCIS of an application based on exceptional hardship?

A: Yes. You can file for reconsideration with the USCIS.

Q: What is the processing time for waivers based on exceptional hardship?

A: According the State Department’s website, an exceptional hardship waiver may take 3 to 4 months once all necessary documents have been submitted.

Q: What is the processing time for waivers based on a request from a State health Agency?

A: According the State Department’s website, a waiver based on a request from a State health agency may take 4 to 6 weeks once all necessary documents have been submitted.

Q: Can I send the forms from the State health agency to the State Department myself?

A: No. The State health agency must send all documents to the Waiver Review Division directly.

Q: Is there a list of areas designated as underserved by the Department of Health and Human Services?

A: Yes, there is a list available on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

Q: Who makes the final decision on the waivers after the Department of State’s Waiver Review decision has made an approval?

A: After the Waiver Review Division approves the waiver request, the waiver is sent to the USCIS to make the final decision.

Q: Are J-2 holders subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement?

A: Yes. J-2 holders are subject to the same residency requirements as their principals.

Q: I am a J-2 holder.If the J-1 principal gets a waiver, will I be exempt from the two-year foreign residency requirement as well?

A: Yes. If the J-1 principal is successful in having his/her two-year foreign residency requirement waiver, then your two-year residency requirement will also be waived.

Q: May a J-2 holder file a waiver petition independently of the J-1 Principal?

A: In most situations, a J-2 Holder is not allowed to file an independent Waiver petition. If a J-2 holder obtains a divorce from the J-1 principal or if the J-1 principal passes away, an independent waiver petition may be possible. We recommend that you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.

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