Form I-612 – Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA) for the United States

1. What is the purpose of Form I-612?

1. The purpose of Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA) for the United States, is for individuals subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement to request a waiver of this requirement. This waiver allows individuals to change their status in the United States without having to fulfill the obligation of returning to their home country for two years. Form I-612 is specifically designed for J-1 exchange visitors who are required to return to their home country for two years after completing their exchange program before they can change their status in the U.S. or apply for certain immigration benefits.

Form I-612 provides a mechanism for eligible individuals to demonstrate the basis for requesting a waiver of the foreign residence requirement, including criteria such as persecution, exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child, and a request from a “interested U.S. government agency”. The completion and submission of Form I-612, along with supporting documentation, is a crucial step in the process of seeking a waiver of the two-year home-country residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

2. Who is eligible to apply for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement using Form I-612?

1. Eligibility for applying for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement using Form I-612 is primarily determined by meeting specific criteria outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 212(e). Individuals who may be eligible to apply for a waiver include exchange visitors who have completed their exchange program and have been subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, as well as their dependents. In addition, individuals who can demonstrate that returning to their home country would cause exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child may also be eligible for a waiver.

2. Other eligible candidates for a waiver using Form I-612 include exchange visitors who have received a “no objection” statement from their home government or a request from a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, who are willing to serve in an area designated as having a shortage of healthcare professionals in the United States. It’s crucial to carefully review the specific eligibility requirements for the waiver before proceeding with the Form I-612 application process to ensure that all necessary criteria are met.

3. What is the process for filing Form I-612?

The process for filing Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), involves several steps:

1. Eligibility Verification: Confirm that you are subject to the two-year home-country residence requirement based on your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program participation.

2. Complete Form I-612: Fill out the Form I-612 accurately and completely. Provide all necessary information and supporting documentation as required.

3. Submit the Application: Send the completed Form I-612 along with the required fee and supporting documents to the appropriate address as indicated on the form instructions.

4. Wait for USCIS Review: Once the application is received, USCIS will review your case and determine your eligibility for a waiver based on the criteria outlined in the INA.

5. Receive Decision: You will be notified of the decision regarding your waiver application. If approved, you may proceed with your intended immigration plans without fulfilling the two-year foreign residence requirement. If denied, you will be informed of the reasons for the denial and any possible appeal options.

It is essential to follow the instructions carefully and provide all necessary documentation to support your eligibility for the waiver when filing Form I-612.

4. What supporting documents are required to be submitted with Form I-612?

When submitting Form I-612 for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it is crucial to include the necessary supporting documents to strengthen the application. These documents typically include:

1. Completed Form I-612: The application form itself must be filled out accurately and completely, signed by the applicant, and dated.

2. Form G-28 (if applicable): If an attorney or accredited representative is representing the applicant, Form G-28 should be included to officially designate representation.

3. Personal Statement: A detailed personal statement explaining the reasons for requesting the waiver and how it would benefit the applicant, the U.S., and the home country.

4. Evidence of eligibility: Documents supporting the basis for the waiver request, such as a No Objection Statement from the home country’s government, evidence of persecution if required to return, or exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child if the waiver is based on that ground.

5. Passport biographic page: A copy of the biographic information page of the applicant’s passport.

6. Additional supporting documents: Any other relevant documents that can strengthen the case for granting the waiver, such as letters of recommendation, proof of ties to the U.S., academic credentials, employment records, etc.

Submitting a comprehensive set of supporting documents with Form I-612 is essential to ensure a successful waiver application.

5. How long does it take for USCIS to process Form I-612?

The processing time for Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA), can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the volume of applications being processed, and the current USCIS workload. On average, it may take anywhere from several months to over a year for USCIS to process Form I-612. Factors that can affect processing times include the completeness of the application, the need for additional documentation or information, and any potential issues that may arise during the review process. It is important for applicants to submit a thorough and accurate application to help expedite the processing of their waiver request.

6. What are the grounds for requesting a waiver of the foreign residence requirement?

The grounds for requesting a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under Form I-612 include:

1. No Objection Statement: This is a statement from the applicant’s home government that it has no objection to the applicant not returning to their home country to fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement.

2. Persecution: If the applicant can demonstrate that they would be subject to persecution upon returning to their home country, they may be eligible for a waiver based on persecution grounds.

3. Exceptional Hardship: If compliance with the two-year foreign residence requirement would result in exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of the applicant, they may be able to obtain a waiver based on this ground.

4. Interested U.S. Government Agency: If a U.S. government agency determines that the applicant’s work is in the public interest of the United States and requests that the foreign residence requirement be waived, the applicant may qualify for a waiver based on this ground.

5. Request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent: If a U.S. State Public Health Department or its equivalent determines that the applicant’s work is in the public interest and requests a waiver on behalf of the applicant, they may be eligible for a waiver based on this ground.

6. Request by a designated State Department of Education: If a U.S. State Department of Education determines that the applicant’s work is in the public interest and requests a waiver on behalf of the applicant, they may be eligible for a waiver based on this ground.

7. Can the waiver be granted based on hardship to the applicant or their family?

Yes, a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) can be granted based on hardship to the applicant or their family. The U.S. Department of State considers hardship to the applicant or their qualifying family members as one of the factors in determining whether to grant a waiver of the foreign residence requirement. Hardship can be evaluated in various forms such as medical, financial, or personal circumstances that require the applicant or their family to remain in the United States. It is important to provide detailed documentation and evidence to support the hardship claim when submitting Form I-612, along with any other required supporting documents. Each case is unique, and the decision to grant a waiver based on hardship will ultimately depend on the specific circumstances presented.

8. Can a J-1 visa holder apply for a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement while still in the U.S.?

Yes, a J-1 visa holder can apply for a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement while still in the U.S. The process for applying for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement is outlined in Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA). The J-1 visa holder can submit this form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while remaining in the United States. The waiver application process involves demonstrating that the J-1 holder will face exceptional hardship if they return to their home country, that they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, or political opinion if they return, or that a U.S. government agency has requested the waiver for a specific reason deemed to be in the public interest. It is important to carefully follow the instructions and requirements outlined by USCIS when applying for the waiver while in the U.S.

9. What are the different bases under which a J-1 visa holder can apply for a waiver?

There are five primary bases under which a J-1 visa holder can apply for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). These bases include:

1. No Objection Statement: This is issued by the individual’s home country government indicating that they have no objection to the waiver of the two-year home residency requirement.

2. Interested U.S. Government Agency Request: If an agency of the U.S. government determines that the J-1 holder’s presence is in the public interest, they can request a waiver on the individual’s behalf.

3. Persecution: If the J-1 visa holder can demonstrate that they will face persecution upon return to their home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, they may be eligible for a waiver.

4. Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child: If the J-1 visa holder can show that their departure would cause exceptional hardship to their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child, they may qualify for a waiver.

5. Request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent: If a J-1 physician is a graduate of a medical school approved by the World Health Organization and has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health professional shortage area, they may be eligible for a waiver based on this request.

Each of these bases has specific requirements and criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement.

10. Is there a deadline by which the waiver application must be filed?

1. There is no specific deadline by which the Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, must be filed. However, it is important to submit the application in a timely manner to avoid any delays in processing. It is recommended to file the waiver application as soon as possible after the J-1 visa holder determines that they are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement and wishes to request a waiver. Waiting until closer to the end of the J-1 program could potentially impact the individual’s ability to remain in the United States beyond the visa expiration date. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or a designated organization familiar with J-1 visa matters to ensure a timely and thorough submission of the waiver application.

11. Can the J-1 visa holder’s spouse and children also apply for a waiver?

1. The spouse and children of a J-1 visa holder may also be eligible to apply for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under certain circumstances. In order to do so, they must file separate Form I-612 applications for waiver just like the principal J-1 visa holder. Each individual’s application will be considered based on their own unique circumstances and eligibility factors.

2. It is important to note that the waiver application process for spouses and children is separate from the principal J-1 visa holder’s application. Each applicant must demonstrate that they would experience exceptional hardship if the waiver is not granted, or that they have a credible fear of persecution if they were to return to their home country.

3. Additionally, the spouse and children must meet the same stringent requirements as the principal J-1 visa holder in order to qualify for a waiver. This includes proving that they have complied with the terms of the J-1 visa program, that they have not received medical training in the U.S. funded by the U.S. government or their home country’s government, and that they have not been subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

4. It is recommended that each family member consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess their individual circumstances and determine the best course of action for applying for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement.

12. Can someone with a waiver recommendation apply for a change of status or adjustment of status in the U.S.?

Yes, an individual who has received a waiver recommendation under Form I-612 may apply for a change of status or adjustment of status in the United States. This waiver recommendation indicates that the individual has met the requirements to be exempt from the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Once the waiver is granted, the applicant is no longer subject to this requirement. As a result, they are eligible to pursue a change of status to a different nonimmigrant category or apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident status within the United States, subject to meeting all other eligibility criteria for the desired status. It is important to follow the specific instructions and guidelines provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when pursuing such changes in immigration status after receiving a waiver recommendation under Form I-612.

13. What happens if the waiver application is denied?

If the waiver application under Form I-612 is denied, the applicant will not be granted a waiver of the foreign residence requirement (212(e) of the INA). Consequently, the applicant would be required to fulfill the two-year home residency requirement before being eligible for certain visas or adjustment of status in the United States. In the case of denial, the applicant may explore appealing the decision or reapplying with additional supporting documentation or evidence to strengthen their case. It is important for individuals to carefully review the reasons for denial provided by the USCIS and consider seeking legal advice to determine the best course of action moving forward.

14. Can the decision on the waiver application be appealed?

Yes, the decision on a waiver application for the foreign residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) can be appealed. Applicants who receive a denial on their Form I-612 may request a review of the decision through an appeal process. The appeal must be filed with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 33 days of the denial letter’s issuance. The AAO will review the case and make a determination based on the evidence and arguments presented. It is essential to thoroughly prepare and present a strong case for the appeal, addressing any reasons for denial and providing additional supporting documentation to strengthen the application.

15. Can a J-1 visa holder leave the U.S. while their waiver application is pending?

1. Yes, a J-1 visa holder can leave the United States while their Form I-612 waiver application is pending. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

2. The J-1 visa holder should ensure they have all necessary travel documents, including a valid passport and visa, to re-enter the United States after their trip.

3. It is crucial for the J-1 visa holder to maintain communication with their designated J-1 program sponsor throughout the waiver application process and travel plans. They may need to provide updates on their whereabouts and contact information.

4. It is recommended that the J-1 visa holder consult with an immigration attorney or advisor before traveling outside the United States while the waiver application is pending. They can provide guidance on any potential risks or implications of leaving the country during this process.

5. In some cases, leaving the United States while an I-612 waiver application is pending could impact the processing timeline or result in complications with the application. Therefore, careful planning and consideration are advised before undertaking travel outside the country while awaiting a decision on the waiver application.

16. Can a waiver of the foreign residence requirement be transferred to a new J-1 program sponsor?

The waiver of the foreign residence requirement cannot be transferred to a new J-1 program sponsor. Once an applicant has received a waiver of the foreign residence requirement based on an approved Form I-612 application, it is specific to the original J-1 program and sponsor under which the waiver was granted. If the J-1 exchange visitor wishes to change sponsors or programs, they would need to go through the waiver application process again with the new sponsor and demonstrate eligibility for a waiver based on the new circumstances. The waiver is not transferable between different J-1 program sponsors.

17. Can a waiver of the foreign residence requirement be revoked?

Yes, a waiver of the foreign residence requirement can be revoked under certain circumstances. Revocation may occur if it is later discovered that the waiver was secured through fraud or misrepresentation. Additionally, if the individual who received the waiver fails to fulfill the obligations associated with the waiver, such as completing the required service in an underserved area, the waiver may be subject to revocation. It is essential for individuals who have received a waiver to comply with all terms and conditions to avoid any risk of revocation. Revocation of a waiver can have serious consequences, including potential re-instatement of the foreign residence requirement and possible immigration consequences.

18. Are there any circumstances under which a waiver may be automatically granted?

Under certain circumstances, a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) may be automatically granted without the need for a formal application process. These circumstances include:

1. If the J-1 exchange visitor’s home government or the U.S. government issues a No Objection Statement, indicating that they do not object to the waiver.

2. If the exchange visitor’s country of nationality or last residence issues a Interested Government Agency (IGA) waiver recommendation based on exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child.

When these conditions are met, the waiver may be automatically granted without the need for further documentation or justification from the J-1 exchange visitor. It is important to note that these automatic waiver provisions are limited and specific, so individuals seeking a waiver should carefully review the requirements and consult with an immigration attorney for guidance.

19. Can a waiver of the foreign residence requirement affect future visa applications or status in the U.S.?

Yes, obtaining a waiver of the foreign residence requirement through Form I-612 can impact future visa applications and status in the U.S. Here are some ways in which the waiver may affect your immigration situation:

1. Eligibility for Certain Visa Categories: Once you have received a waiver of the foreign residence requirement, you may become eligible for certain visa categories that were previously unavailable to you due to this requirement, such as H-1B visas or lawful permanent residency (green card) through employment.

2. Adjustment of Status: If you were previously subject to the foreign residence requirement and obtain a waiver, you may be able to adjust your status to a permanent resident in the U.S. without having to first fulfill the requirement of residing abroad for a certain period of time.

3. Travel and Reentry: With the waiver, you may have more flexibility in traveling in and out of the U.S. without being subject to restrictions imposed by the foreign residence requirement.

4. Employment Opportunities: A waiver can open up more employment opportunities in the U.S. as certain employers may prefer candidates who are not subject to this requirement.

5. Naturalization: Fulfilling the foreign residence requirement is also a prerequisite for naturalization. By obtaining a waiver, you may be able to apply for U.S. citizenship sooner than if you were required to spend time outside the country.

It’s important to note that each individual’s situation is unique, and the specific implications of obtaining a waiver may vary depending on various factors. Consulting with an immigration attorney or legal expert knowledgeable about Form I-612 and the foreign residence requirement can provide tailored guidance based on your circumstances.

20. Are there any fees associated with filing Form I-612?

Yes, there is a fee associated with filing Form I-612. As of current regulations, the filing fee for Form I-612 is $930. This fee is subject to change, so it is advisable to check the most recent fee structure on the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website before submitting your application. Additionally, there may be other costs involved in the waiver process, such as those related to medical examinations or legal representation, so it is important to consider these factors when preparing to file Form I-612.