J-1 Visas and J-1 Waivers

Since the 1970s, many international medical students have come to the United States on a J-1 visa to complete medical residencies and fellowships. By law, any J-1 visa holder is subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement mentioned above.

The law provides that the two-year residency requirement may be waived under the following circumstances:

1. If the medical graduate can demonstrate that he cannot return to the country of his nationality or last residence because he would be subject to persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion;
2. If the medical graduate can prove that returning to his country would result in "exceptional hardship" to his spouse or children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents; or 3. If the medical graduate is sponsored by an "interested governmental agency". "Interested government agency" (IGA) or state agency (Conrad Amendment) or a provide services in a medically underserved area. The adjustment from a J-1 visa to H-1B visa status must be effected by departing the U.S. and obtaining an H-1B visa (e.g., in Canada) outside the U.S.

Because waivers based on persecution or hardship are rare, most J-1 visa holders seek a waiver by searching for an interested governmental agency to sponsor them.

Our firm understands the stresses and the frustrations that foreign medical physicians and their employers go through because we have gone through it. Our attorneys have been there and our attorneys have had to relocate to serve in medical underserved areas for family members who held a J-1 visa. If you would like to discuss your situation, please feel free to contact us. Madison Immigration Law measures it success by the successes of our clients.

NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney. To consult with Madison Immigration Law regarding your case, click here.