Most people who are in the United States in J-1 status are required to return to their home country for two years before seeking further residence in the United States. Nevertheless, there are five situations in which this two-year home residency requirement can be waived. One of these situations is when you have a legitimate fear of persecution based on your race, religion, or political beliefs if you return to your home country.
The “persecution waiver” can be granted even if it is the spouse or children of the J-1 visa holder (who hold J-2 visas) who fear persecution if they return home. The J-1 persecution waiver is somewhat more difficult to obtain than an asylum claim is, in part because the qualifying reasons for persecution are more narrowly defined.