National Interest Waiver

The two year home residency requirement may be waived if an interested U.S. government agency recommends that a waiver for a particular alien would serve the national interest. The alien does not have to be a current or prospective employee of the requesting agency, but should apply to those agencies that would have an interest in his or her work. The government agency must request that a waiver be granted and submit documentary evidence that the exchange visitor's forced departure would negatively impact a government program or interest.

The exchange visitor and interested agency must work closely together in seeking this waiver. The visitor generally makes the initial application to the agency and must follow that agency's procedures. Application procedures vary from agency to agency. Some agencies, for example, require that the foreign national first attempt to obtain a no objection statement before applying for a waiver through a government agency. The government agency must then submit the formal waiver request and supporting documents to the U.S. State Department, which then seeks comment from the program sponsor regarding its views on the waiver application.

Assuming both a waiver request from an interested government agency and a positive recommendation from the sponsor, the U.S. Department of State will weigh the government agency's interest in retaining the individual in the United States against the funding agency's interest in having him or her return to their home country for two years. Backed by a government agency's recommendation, the U.S. Department of State is highly likely to recommend that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grant the waiver. USCIS makes the final determination. Also, although the national interest waiver has a high chance of success once filed, the exchange visitor must start the process well before the J Visa expires because of the complexity of the procedures and the involvement of multiple government bodies.

J Visa physicians can apply to one of five different federal agencies to receive a recommendation for a waiver of the two year residency requirement:

In order to receive a recommendation for a waiver through one of these federal agencies, the J Visa physician must agree to work in a medically underserved community, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Click here to find a list of these areas.

J Visa physicians can also apply to an individual state's department of health through the Conrad 30 program. Please click here for more information on the Conrad 30 program.