J-1 visa holders are people who can enter the US on special exchange programs for up to seven years. The idea behind the J-1 visa is that it allows the US to attract certain professionals – such as medical graduates – into the US to fill professional vacancies. Once the J-1 visa expires, the visa holder must return to his or her country for at least two years before applying for permanent residency or another visa in the US. However, the J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application Immigration Form (Form DS-3035) permits a J-1 visa holder to forego this required trip back to the home country.
With Form DS-3035, a J-1 visa holder can remain in the US without having to return to their home country, and this has several benefits. For the visa holder, there is no delay in applying for permanent residency. As well, the visa holder does not have to uproot the life they have built in the US or give up the career opportunities they have created for themselves in the US. For the US, Form DS3035 is advantageous as it encourages more needed professionals to remain in the US.
To complete DS 3035, you need a statutory basis for your request. There are a few bases for this request:
1) A No Objection Letter, which is a letter from your host government, stating that there is no objection to you getting a visa waiver.
2) An International Government Agency Waiver, which is a request made on your behalf from a US Government agency.
3) An Asylum Waiver, claiming that you will face persecution if you return to your home country.
4) A Hardship Waiver, which claims that you will cause considerable hardship to a US permanent resident spouse or child or a US citizen spouse or child by returning to your home country.
Once you have determined what your statutory basis will be, download the J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application Immigration Form and the latest instructions from the USCIS website.
You will need to send the correctly completed form as well as a $215 fee to “U.S. Department of State” as described in the instructions. It is important to apply early, before your J-1 visa expires. A Form DS-3035 J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application can take four to nine months or even more to process and once your J-1 visa expires, you will need to return to your country of residence if you do not have a waiver.
Since the visa process can take so long, it is important to keep the National Visa Center up to date about any changes which may affect your visa application. For example, the National Visa Center will need to be informed if you change your name, address, marital status, or attorney. The National Visa Center also needs to be informed if a visa petitioner dies. If the National Visa Center asks for more information about your case, if you decide to upgrade or withdraw your petition, or if you adopt or have children, the National Visa Center will need to be informed of these changes.