J1 Visa Waiver: I am a post-doctoral research scientist with the University of California, Riverside and I have gone through the J1 visa waiver process (212e waiver). I am sharing my experience with everyone, which I believe would help others obtain a J1 visa waiver quickly.
I referred to several blogs and videos about how to obtain a J1 visa waiver which was very time-consuming. The whole J1 visa waiver NORI procedure is tedious and a lot of people don’t know how the process is.
To reduce the complexity, I have divided the whole process into 3 stages, I will refer to them as NORI stages:
Before I begin I would like to clarify that these J1 visa waiver steps might change in the future or slightly differ for you based on your location within the United States.
I applied it from the Consulate Journal of India, San Francisco, California as I live in Riverside, CA. However, the overall J1 visa waiver application process should not vary much.
Table of Contents
What is a J1 visa waiver?
A J1 visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to individuals who want to participate in the exchange visitors program in the United States.
Some individuals will be subject to a 2-year home country physical presence requirement under which the applicant has to go back to their home country and serve for a minimum of 2 years. To waive off this J1 visa two-year rule, you need to obtain a J1 visa waiver.
How to know if you are subjected to the 2-year home residency 212(e) rule?
Please check either your J1 visa in your passport or your DS-2019 form; either of them may state the 212(e) rule. In my case, it was mentioned on my J1 visa.
01. Check on your J1 visa
Check the bottom of your J1 visa; it should indicate "Bearer is subject to section 212(e), Two-year home residency rule does apply".
02. Check on your DS 2019
If you do not find this information on your J1 visa, please review your DS 2019 form. In my case, the information was not on my DS 2019; it was included on my visa.
Refer to the DS 2019 screenshot; you may notice a checkmark on option 2, which states 'Subject to two-year residence requirement'.
J1 Waiver Processing Time - When should you apply for a J1 visa waiver?
You can apply for a J1 visa waiver anytime, there is no restriction as such. But it's recommended to apply once you have received a DS2019 extension for the entire possible term i.e. 5 years.
As I mentioned earlier, there are basically 3 stages to get a J1 visa waiver, and end-to-end J1 visa waiver processing time is 1-2 years. May be less for some depending on how fast you can obtain a no-objection statement from your home country.
I suggest you complete the first 2 stages when you have completed 3 years on your J1 visa and apply for stage 3 once you receive the full 5 years of extension on your J1 visa.
I am suggesting that because once you apply for the third/final stage of the J1 visa waiver and let's say it gets approved, you will not be able to extend your J1 visa or DS2019 anymore. So it's best to apply for the third stage only when you have received the entire 5 years of extension on your visa.
Few universities/institutes provide the first DS 2019 with a complete 5-year period, but few of them provide yearly extensions, and few of them provide two/three years extensions. So you have to decide based on your situation. If you still have doubts, you can post your query in the comment section below, and I will be happy to assist you with it.
Related: How to apply for J2 EAD?
J1 Visa Waiver - Where should you apply?
Please refer to the following links to see which Consulate General of India (CGI) office covers your jurisdiction. I have also gathered the embassy's contact details, jurisdictions, social media pages, and email addresses which you might find useful, not just for the J1 visa waiver but in general.
I went in person to the Consulate General of India, in San Francisco. However, you can apply in person or send it via mail.
FAQs on J1 Visa Waiver
Can I expedite the J1 waiver?
Yes, you can expedite the J1 visa waiver process at certain stages. I know a few of my friends successfully did it and I have documented their experiences in detail. Personally, I did not expedite it as I had sufficient time to get the J1 visa waiver. Read more.
What is the next step after getting a J1 waiver favorable recommendation?
A J1 waiver favorable recommendation means that the DOS is in favor of granting you the J1 visa waiver and your case will be transferred to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and they will make the final decision on your case. You will be notified by the DOS that your case has been forwarded to USCIS by a letter that you will get through the mail. In my case, I received this letter very late like after 2 months and I was not even expecting it since I didn't know about it. Read more.
What should I mention in the J1 waiver statement of reason?
There could be several ways you can write a statement of the reason for a J1 visa waiver. When I applied for the J1 visa waiver, I included the basis for seeking a J1 visa waiver as more time was required for my ongoing research work at that time. I also wrote an article on this where I shared a few examples including mine. Read more.
When should I apply for a J1 visa waiver?
You should complete the first 2 stages when you have completed 3 years on your J1 visa and apply for stage 3 once you receive the full 5 years of extension on your J1 visa.
Do I need a lawyer for the J1 visa waiver?
This opinion might vary from individual to individual, I would say it's not needed but if you wanna hire one there is no issue with that. I would recommend you read this blog before you take any decision. Several people asked me this question, hence I had to write this in detail. Read more.
Is the J1 two-year rule cumulative?
Yes, the J1 two-year rule is cumulative which means that you must fulfill two year home country requirement for a cumulative total period of at least two years. You can find complete details below.
Next: J1 Visa Waiver (Stage 1)
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