The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. J-1 non immigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.
Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:
The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program, so the first step in obtaining a J-1 visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). This form will be provided by your sponsoring agency. You should work closely with the officials at your sponsoring agency who will be assisting you through this process. An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Your RO or ARO will explain to you what documents are needed in order to be issued a DS-2019.
After you have obtained a Form DS-2019, you may then apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so submitting your visa application as early as possible is strongly encouraged (though you may not enter the United States in J-1 status more than 30 days before your program begins).
Some J-1 non immigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 non immigrants only under the terms of the exchange program. Please check with your sponsoring agency for more information on any restrictions that may apply to you working in the United States.
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. Your spouse and children are entitled to work authorization; however, their income may not be used to support you. To apply for work authorization as a J-2 non immigrant, your spouse or child would file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The Conrad 30 Waiver program allows J-1 medical doctors to apply for a waiver for the 2-year residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. See section 214(l) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA). The program addresses the shortage of qualified doctors in medically under served areas.
Although each state has developed its own application rules and guidelines, the following program requirements apply to all J-1 medical doctors.
The J-1 medical doctor must:
See your state’s public health department website for specific details.
To apply for a waiver, a J-1 medical doctor must:
The state public health department that agreed to sponsor the J-1 medical doctor for a waiver must then send the waiver application to the DOS Waiver Review Division (DOS-WRD) for a recommendation.
DOS-WRD will notify USCIS electronically of its recommendation. DOS will notify the J-1 medical doctor, attorney of record (if applicable), and the state agency that requested the waiver by mail.
USCIS will make a final determination on whether to approve the waiver application. Upon a favorable recommendation by DOS-WRD, USCIS will generally grant the waiver as long as there are no underlying concerns. USCIS will provide written notice of its decision to the J-1 medical doctor and his or her representative (if applicable).
If USCIS grants the waiver:
Once the Conrad 30 waiver recipient has fulfilled all of the terms and conditions imposed on the waiver, including the 3-year period of employment with the health care facility, he or she (and his or her spouse and/or child) will become eligible to apply for:
If waiver recipient fails to fulfill the terms and conditions imposed on the waiver, he or she (and his or her spouse and/or child) will once again become subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement under section 212(e) of the INA.
The new H-1B petition will not be approved unless USCIS determines that the waiver recipient has established the existence of extenuating circumstances that excuse early termination of employment as stated in the terms and conditions in the original H-1B petition.
A J-1 exchange visitor who came to the United States or acquired such status in order to receive graduate medical education or training (a J-1 medical doctor) is generally ineligible to apply for:
To be eligible to do so, a J-1 exchange visitor must have resided and been physically present in his or her country of nationality or last residence for at least 2 years (the 2-year foreign residence requirement) upon completion of the J-1 exchange visitor program. Any spouse or child admitted as an accompanying J-2 status holder is also subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement. See section 212(e) of the INA.
A J-1 medical doctor (and his or her J-2 spouse and/or child) is ineligible to change from J non immigrant status to any other non immigrant status (except in certain cases to A, G, T, or U). See section 248(a)(2) of the INA
For certain exchange visitors (J-1 and J-2 visas) and their families to apply for a waiver of the requirement that they reside outside the United States for at least two years prior to returning or leaving the United States.
Form 8; Instructions 7.
06/22/15. We cannot accept previous editions. (The edition date can be found at the bottom of every page on the Form and Instructions.)
If you are filing Form I-612 for either of the following two reasons:
1. Exceptional hardship to the exchange visitor’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child; or
2. The exchange visitor’s belief that returning to the country of his or her nationality or last residence would subject him or her to persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion.
File your form I-612 with the California Service Center:
Via US Postal Service to:
USCIS California Service Center
I-612 Unit P.O. Box 30112
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0112
Via courier service to:
USCIS California Service Center
24000 Avila Road
2nd floor, room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
If you are filing Form I-612 for one of the following reasons:
1. A request by an interested U.S. Government agency (IGA); or
2. A written statement from your country of nationality or last foreign residence that it has no objection to the waiver (no objection); or
3. A request from a state’s department of public health, or its equivalent, to the Department of State (DOS) to work in a medically under served area. (Conrad Waiver Program)