If you are an exchange visitor to the US holding a J-1 visa, you are likely to be subject to the two-year home residency requirement once your J-1 status expires. That means that you are expected to return home for at least two years rather than remain in the US in some other immigration status.

There are exceptions to this rule that will allow you to obtain a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement. One of these exceptions is that you can obtain a waiver if your home country’s government issues you a “No Objection Statement” that confirms it has no objection if (i) you apply for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement or (ii) apply for permanent residency in the US.

Applying for a Waiver

You can apply for a waiver of the J-1 visa two-year home residency requirement by completing Form DS-3035 (including accompanying documentation) and paying your processing fee online using the web page of the Waiver Review Division of the US State Department. Be sure to indicate that you are relying on a No Objection Statement as your basis for seeking a waiver (rather than one of the other four bases for a waiver).

You can also fill out the form online, print it out and mail it along with a check or money order for the appropriate fee to the Waiver Review Division of the US State Department. DO NOT print out a blank Form DS-3035, fill it in by hand and mail it — your application will be rejected and you won’t even get your fee refunded.

How to Obtain a No Objection Statement

In all likelihood, you will need to contact your home country’s embassy in the US and ask them to prepare a No Objection Statement on your behalf. Some countries, however, have designated certain domestic ministries to issue No Objection Statements. Check with your home country to make sure. In all likelihood, however, you will be referred to your home country’s embassy (not a local consulate).

Dealing With Your Home Country

Your home country has established its own procedures for issuing a No Objection Statement, and these procedures vary from country to country. There is no guarantee that your government will agree to issue a statement at all. Suppose, for example, that you received graduate medical training in the US and there is a shortage of doctors in your country. In that case, your government may insist that you return home.

Forwarding the No Objection Statement to the US Government

If your request for a No Objection Statement is approved by your embassy, it will submit the No Objection Statement Directly to the US State Department Waiver Review Division. You don’t need to do this yourself.

If your country relies on a domestic ministry to issue No Objection Statements, the ministry will send the statement to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section, at the US embassy in your home country’s capital. The U.S. embassy will then forward the No Objection Statement to the US State Department Waiver Review Division, and the Waiver Review Division will then forward it to the USCIS for a final decision.

If Your Application is Rejected

If your application is rejected, remember that there are four other bases for obtaining a waiver of the J-1 two-year home residency requirement

  • Proving that your US citizen spouse or child will endure exceptional hardship if you are forced to return home;
  • Proving that if you return home you will suffer persecution due to your race, religion or political beliefs;
  • An interested government agency (IGA) recommends that you be granted a waiver because it is in their best interests that you remain in the US (to complete a research project, for example); and
  • The Conrad Program Waiver, under which J-1 visa holders who graduated from medical school can receive a J-1 waiver if they take a full-time job in an area of the US that is suffering from a shortage of medical resources (usually a rural area).

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