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J-1 Visas and Waivers

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:

  • request by an interested U.S. federal government agency
  • showing that you would face persecution if returned to your home country
  • exceptional hardship that denial of your request would cause to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident wife or child, or
  • request by a designated State Public Health Department

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