If you are a J-1 physician who have received graduate medical education or training in the U.S., then you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement. You must return to your last country of permanent residence and live there for two years before becoming eligible for H or L status or permanent residence in the U.S.
Most J-1 physicians will obtain a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement by making a request to either an Interested Government Agency (IGA) or a state public health department (or equivalent). If approved, the physician must promise to work for a three-year period in a federally designated area that has a shortage of physicians or populations that are medically underserved.
A few J-1 physicians will qualify for a waiver based on hardship or persecution. A hardship waiver requires a showing of exceptional hardship to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse or child of the J-1 physician. For a persecution waiver, the J-1 physician must establish a “well founded fear of persecution” in his home country due to his race, religion, or political opinion.
Ms. Nguyen assists her clients in obtaining a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement through the following options: