This advisory reviews the procedure and standards for J-1 waivers based on exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child, and examines current trends in waiver decisions by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).

Note that it is always best practice to be sure an Exchange Visitor is indeed subject to the two-year foreign residence rule – a notation on a visa stamp or a DS-2019 is not always accurate. The attorney can request a free Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to confirm.

If the Exchange Visitor is subject to the two year rule and requires a waiver, it is not the easiest process and initially preparing a strong case via strategy and documentation is essential. We have examined eighteen exceptional hardship cases decided by the AAO and published at the website between the beginning of 2012 and the end of 2014, summarizing each case and identifying common themes and practice pointers for attorneys preparing waiver requests based on exceptional hardship.

The attached “j1-hardship waiver trends” includes the full-text of this article.

Here is a 2019 example of a J-1 hardship waiver success story titled, Indian Doctor Wins Early Bid To Waive J-1 Residency Mandate – Law360.