A certain amount of red tape is required to obtain a J-1 waiver, even if your eligibility is not in doubt. It is in your best interests to get it right the first time, because any deficiencies in your application could cause unnecessary delay. In today’s unstable immigration law environment, any change that takes place during a delay is likely to be adverse to you. Following is a general rundown of the steps you need to take to obtain a J-1 waiver.
Step 1: Complete Your Application Online
To obtain a J-1 waiver, you are required to complete Form DS-3035.online. You cannot download the form and fill it out by hand — it must be filled out online and printed out. If you send a hand-printed version, it will be returned to you minus the processing fee, which is not refundable. Once you complete Form DS-3035, you can download and print it, in black and white only. It will come out as a barcode that encodes the information you provided.
If you are applying for a J-1 waiver in either the persecution or exceptional hardship categories, you must also submit Form I-612 to the USCIS, have it approved, and submit it with From DS-3035.
Step 2: Mail Your Application
You will need to mail your application to the State Department. Your application must include the following documents:
- Form DS-3035 (with the barcode);
- Copies of every Form DS-2019/IAP 566 that you have received incident to your J-1 status;
- Two self-addressed, stamped legal-size envelopes;
- The application fee ($120 at the time of this writing, plus an additional $930 if you are also required to file Form I-612.) The application fee must be submitted by check or money order, made out to the U.S. Department of State. It must be accompanied by your full legal name, your J-1 waiver case number, if you have one; your place of birth and your date of birth:
- Mail your application to the one of the two addresses listed in Step Two of the State Department J-1 waiver page.
Step 3: Submit Necessary Documents
After you submit your application, certain supporting documents must be submitted by third parties on your behalf. These documents differ depending on your basis for seeking a J-1 waiver.
- If you are requesting a waiver based on a no objection statement, the government of your home country must submit this on your behalf.
- If your waiver request is based on a request by an Interested Government Agency (IGA), the IGA must submit a statement to the State Department on your behalf.
- If you are seeking a waiver based on a claim of persecution, the USCIS must send the State Department a recommendation on your behalf after you file Form I-612 with the USCIS.
- If you are seeking a waiver based on exceptional hardship to a US citizen or permanent resident spouse or child, the USCIS must send a recommendation to the State Department on your behalf after you file Form I-612 with the USCIS.
- If your waiver request is based on the Conrad 30 Waiver Program (service as a physician in an underserved area of the US), a designated state public health department or an equivalent entity must submit a recommendation on your behalf.
Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that the appropriate organizations send the supporting documents on your behalf. If they are not sent, the State Department will not follow up on them and your waiver request will be rejected.
Check Your Application Status
You can check the status of your waiver application on the State Department website. This web page will notify you if any of the required application documents are missing, whether any required application information is missing, and whether the State Department requires more information from you.
If any documents to be submitted to a third party have not been submitted (the No Objection Statement, for example), it is your duty to contact them and have them send the documents — again, the State Department Waiver Review Division will take no action.
It is unlikely that you will obtain any relevant information on your status until at least a month after you submit your waiver application.
If the State Department Requests More Information
Your application may be missing critical information. Suppose, for example, that you are claiming a waiver on the basis of hardship to your spouse, but your application includes a foreign language marriage certificate with no certified English translation, In this case, since the missing information is not something that should be provided by a third party, the State Department will notify you that the information is missing from your application.
Since the State Department will mail you the notification to the address you provided on Form DS-3035, be sure to notify them promptly if you change your address.
If you submit any additional documents, write your case number on all documents you send. To avoid confusion, write your case number on the outside of the envelope as well. This should speed up processing.
J-1 Waiver Approval
After the State Department Waiver Review Division decides to recommend the approval of yor J-1 waiver application, it will mail you a copy of its recommendation and forward another copy to the USCIS. The USCIS will inform you of their decision on your J-1 waiver application by mailing a notification to the address you listed on Form DS-3035.