What is Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement?

Under section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), certain J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors are required to return to their country of residence for at least two years after departing the U.S. before they can apply for an immigrant visa, adjustment of status, or change of status.

Eligible J-1 nonimmigrants and their families may apply to have the two-year requirement waived by filing Form I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement. The waiver must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security before J1 and J2 visa holders can change their U.S. status or receive certain types of visas.

Who is Subject to the Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement?

If you hold a J1 visa, you will be subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement if:

  • ➤ Your participation in the exchange program was funded in any way by the U.S. government, your home country’s government, or an international organization that received funding from the U.S. government or the government in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • ➤ You participated in an exchange program that involved specialized knowledge or skills needed to aid the development of your country of residence and is on your country’s Exchange Visitor Skills List.
  • ➤ You participated in an exchange program to receive graduate medical education or training.

Who Can File Form I-612 for an Exceptional Hardship J1 Waiver?

You may be eligible to apply to have the two-year foreign residence requirement waived if you are 1) a J1 visa holder, 2) the divorced ex-spouse (J-2 holder) of an exchange visitor. In addition, your application must be based on:

  • ➤ Exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or children
  • ➤ A reason to believe that returning to your country of citizenship, nationality, or last foreign residence would put you at risk of persecution due to race, religion, or political opinions.

During the application process, you’ll need to explain why you believe you’re eligible for a J1 waiver and provide detailed evidence to back up your claims. Keep in mind that you don’t need to file Form I612 if you’re applying for a J1 waiver on another basis, such as a no-objection statement, a request by an IGO, or a Conrad Waiver.