Client: J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Holder
Client’s Country of Origin: Iraq
Case Type: J-1 Waiver of Two-Year Home Residency Requirement
Date of Application: October 2018
Date of Approval: August 2019
Our client retained Herman Legal Group counsel to assist with legal matters and potentially save his life. A citizen of Baghdad, Iraq, our client has been present in the US since 2013 on J-1 status. This status is granted to participants of exchange programs who engage in work and academic studies while advancing towards their future careers. Our client owns a background in research and studies in political science and is a Ph.D. candidate within his field. For some J-1 holders, once you complete the program, before starting another, you may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement. It means that the immigrant must return to his home country for two years after completion of the program, which was not an option in our client’s case.
Before coming to the US, our client had been subject to persecution in Iraq. While belonging to a Sunni family, Baghdad is primarily a Shia city where the militia is known to abuse their power and authority. Many of his former colleagues had been detained, murdered, or kidnapped by Shiite militias, in addition to his brother’s life being taken. Our client had also suffered trauma as the army had abducted and tortured him until his family agreed to pay a ransom as they did not want to lose another member.
Once going to the US for a scholarship, our client experienced post-traumatic stress disorder from the events that occurred in his past. He considered applying for asylum after his arrival, but his assumptions that the militias would dissipate were proven wrong after ISIS gained government control. Throughout his stay, he continued to receive letters from the Iraqi Supreme National Commission to be summoned, but he knew that many people had been detained in prisons for years as a result.
Our client came to us for help in a time of desperation. If he returned to Iraq, his spouse and US-born child would need to return with him, putting them in a dangerous fate. Attorney Erin James aided in the matter, and after hearing our client’s trauma and worries, she was determined to assist our client in his and his family’s safety. Attorney James gathered an immense amount of documentation necessary to receive an approved waiver of the home residency requirement. The evidence assembled included documentation of our client’s participation in the exchange program, evidence displaying eligibility of persecution claims, articles of the country’s political state, and accredited psychiatrist reports confirming of the long-lasting mental distress caused by the militias. After months on review, the USCIS ultimately approved our client’s waiver to return to Baghdad. Instead, our client and his family were able to stay in safety within the US. With much time and effort involved, this was a great success for both Herman Legal Group counsel and our client, who now has the ability to apply for other visas to become a permanent US resident.