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 J-1 Two-Year Home Residency Requirement Waiver for Foreign Medical Graduate

Hi William,

I am a foreign medical graduate participated in a J-1 visa program before. How to waiver the two-year home residency requirement?


A foreign medical graduate who participates in a J-1 visa program may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement (HRR) following the
medical training inthe United States. The two-year home residency requirement must be met or waived in order for the alien applicant to be eligible for immigration benefits, such as being granted a change of status to H1B.

The only exception to the 2-year home residence requirement of the J-1 visa program is to receive a waiver. Under the law, the following 3 circumstances can provide a waiver of the 2-year residency requirement:

1) The waiver applicant can demonstrate that he or she will suffer from persecution in his or her home country or country of last legal permanent residence.

) Fulfillment of the residency requirement would bring proven exceptional hardship to the applicant's spouse and/or children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

3) The applicant is sponsored by an Interested Governmental Agency (IGA) that is interested in the physician’s continued employment in the United States.

The following governmental agencies have sponsored waivers for international medical graduates:
  • The Department of Health and Human Services;
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • The Appalachian Regional Commission;
  • The Department of Agriculture;
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development;
State departments of public health may sponsor up to 30 J-1 physicians per year for waivers to provide care in underserved communities. Once an international medical graduate receives a J-1 waiver and a state medical license, he or she may obtain a new work authorized status for U.S. employment, which in most cases will be an H-1B visa or an immigrant visa.

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