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

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

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Last updated: April 4, 2024.

What is Form I-612 used for?

  • Form I-612, “Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended),” is a form used by J-1 and J-2 visa holders
  • The J-1 visa is issued to foreign nationals to come to the U.S. for the purpose of cultural exchange, education, or training
  • Some of J-1 and J-2 visa holders are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement (Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act)
  • Being subject to the two-year home country requirement demands that J-1 visa holders return to their home country or country of last residence for at least two years after completing their J-1 program
  • If a J-1/J-2 visa holder does not comply with the foreign residence requirement, they might be ineligible to apply for certain U.S. visas, such as H (temporary worker) or L (intracompany transferee) visas, or for permanent residency (green card) in the U.S.
  • Form I-612 is filed by J-1/J-2 visa holders who seek a waiver of this two-year home-country physical presence requirement
  • If a principal J-1 visa holder is subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, the J-2 dependents (spouse and unmarried children) are also subject to this requirement
  • Individuals may apply for a waiver based on the following grounds:
    • “No objection” statement from their home country
    • Request by a U.S. government agency
    • Claim of persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion
    • Hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child

Form I-612 requirements

To file Form I-612 the following requirements must be met:

  • Completion of J-1 Program:
      • The applicant must have completed the J-1 exchange visitor program
      • The two-year home-country physical presence requirement is typically triggered upon completion of the J-1 program
  • Eligibility for a Waiver:
      • The applicant must be eligible for a waiver based on one of the applicable grounds, which may include a “no objection” statement from their home country, persecution, exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child, or a request from a U.S. government agency
  • Filing Form I-612:
      • The applicant must properly complete and submit Form I-612, including all required information and supporting documentation
      • The form should be submitted to the USCIS or U.S. Department of State
  • Supporting Documentation:
      • The applicant must provide supporting documentation based on the specific ground for the waiver (see the checklist below)
  • Filing Fee:
    • Payment of the filing fee is required
    • The fee amount may vary, so it is important to check the USCIS website 

Who is eligible to file Form I-612?

The following individuals are eligible to file Form I-612 with USCIS:

  • J-1 exchange visitors
  • J-2 spouses who are no longer married to the J-1 exchange visitors
  • Sons and daughters of the J-1 and/or J-2, who are married or who are 21 years of age or older

Note: J-2 spouses still married to their J-1 exchange visitors and unmarried children under 21 years of age may not file Form I-612 on their own behalf.

Who must file Form I-612 with the U.S. Department of State?

Do not file Form I-612 with USCIS if you are applying for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement based on:

  • A request by an interested U.S. Government Agency (IGA);
  • A written statement from your country of citizenship or nationality or last foreign residence that it has no objection to the waiver (also called “No Objection”); or
  • A request from a state public health department, or its equivalent, to permit you to work as a physician in a medically underserved area (also called “Conrad Waiver Program”)

Instead, you must submit your waiver application with the U.S. Department of State. Learn more.

How to include J-2 family members in Form I-612

  • If you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement, and your spouse and unmarried children were admitted in J-2 status, they are also subject to this requirement
  • If you want to include your spouse and children in your Form I-612 waiver application, you must list them on the application
  • If you do not include your J-2 spouse or J-2 children, they will not receive waivers with you and each family member will have to file a separate Form I-612

Form I-612 checklist of documents

Submit photocopies of the following documents with your Form I-612 application:

Required evidence

Description

Proof of immigration status (if applying based on exceptional hardship on U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or children) Proof of your spouse’s or child(ren)’s immigration status (at least one of the following documents):

  • U.S. birth certificate (if born in the U.S.)
  • U.S. naturalization certificate
  • U.S. citizenship certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), if born abroad to US citizen parents
  • Green card (front and back)
Proof of relationship (if applying based on exceptional hardship on U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or children)
  • Marriage certificate (for spouses)
  • Proof of your and your spouse’s previous marriage terminations (if applicable)
  • Birth certificate (for child)
Written statement
  • Detailed written statement describing the hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or persecution if you return to your home country
Proof of persecution (if applying based on persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion) Proof of affiliation:

  • Membership cards
  • Political party membership cards
  • Letters from organizations you belonged to
  • Any other documents demonstrating affiliation to a social group, political party, organization, institution, etc.

Witness affidavits:

  • Sworn affidavits from witnesses who can support your claim (for example, witnesses who have personal knowledge of the events you experience in your home country)
  • ID documents of witnesses

Medical records:

  • Medical records corroborating the harm suffered by the applicant

Mental health records:

  • Mental health records (from abroad and the U.S., if applicable) confirming diagnosis and/or treatment for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc. caused by persecution

Articles describing the events mentioned in the applicant’s sworn declaration:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Website articles
  • Any other media articles (social media posts, etc.)

Arrest records:

  • Police reports
  • Arrest warrants
  • Subpoenas
  • Arrest records

County expert report and/or testimony:

  • Country expert report
  • Country expert CV

Country Conditions Reports:

Forms DS-2019/IAP-66, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
  • Copies of Form DS-2019/IAP-66 for all exchange programs in which you or your spouse participated (if applicable)
Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record (if you are in the U.S.)
  • Copy of your and your spouse Form I-94 record (if applicable)
Passport copy
  • Copy of the passport used to travel to the U.S.
English translation
  • If any supporting documents are in a foreign language, provide certified English translations
  • Attach the photocopy of the original document in foreign language

How to submit Form I-612

To submit Form I-612 with USCIS, you will need to follow the steps below:

Step 1. Obtain the Latest Form:

  • Download the most recent edition of Form I-612 from the USCIS website
  • Failure to use the current edition of Form I-612 might result in rejection of your application

Step 2. Complete the Form:

  • Fill out Form I-612 accurately and completely
  • Sign and date the form in ink
  • USCIS does not accept computer-generated or stamped signatures
  • Fill out and submit Form G-1145 to receive an electronic notification containing USCIS receipt number by text message or email
  • If a question does not apply to you, enter “N/A”
  • Gather supporting documents (see the checklist above)
  • Payment of Filing Fee:
    • Check the current filing fee for Form I-612 on the USCIS website
    • Include the appropriate fee with your application
    • Payment methods may include check, money order, cashier’s check or credit card (Form G-1450)

Step 3. Mail the Application:

  • Mail the completed Form I-612, along with supporting documentation and the filing fee, to the address specified on the USCIS website
  • Make a photocopy of the completed application for your records

Step 4. Registration Confirmation:

  • Consider sending your application via express mail with a tracking number a to ensure that USCIS receives it
  • Approximately 2 weeks after the application submission, you will receive USCIS receipt notices by mail

Step 5. Waiting for USCIS Processing:

  • After submitting the form, you will need to wait for USCIS to process your application
  • It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 15 months for USCIS to process your waiver application
  • You can track the status of your application online (enter Form I-612 receipt notice)

Step 6. Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status (if applicable):

  • If the waiver is approved, you may start the Consular Processing to apply for a visa (if abroad) and apply for Adjustment of Status (if in the U.S.)

How much is the filing fee for Form I-612?

Form I-612 filing fee is $1,100.

Acceptable forms of payment include:

  • Money order
  • Personal check
  • Cashier’s check
  • Credit card payment (Form G-1450)

If paying by check, make it payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.

Form I-612 filing address

A completed and signed Form I-612 application, along with the payment and supporting documents, must be mailed to the following address:

If You Are Filing Form I-612 Based On:

Filing Address:

  • Exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child; or
  • If you believe that returning to your country of nationality or last residence would subject you to persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

USCIS California Service Center
I-612 Unit
P.O. Box 30112
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0112

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS California Service Center
24000 Avila Rd.
2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

USCIS may update filing addresses, so it’s essential to use the latest information available at the time of your filing

  • You received a request from an interested U.S. government agency;
  • You received a written statement from your country of nationality or last foreign residence that it has no objection to the waiver; or
  • A state’s Department of Public Health, or its equivalent, sent a request to the U.S. Department of State for you to work in a medically underserved area (Conrad Waiver Program)
USPS:

Department of State J-1 Waiver
P.O. Box 979037
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000

FedEx, UPS, and DHL:

Department of State J-1 Waiver
Attn: 979037
3180 Rider Trail South
Earth City, MO 63045

U.S. Department of State may update filing addresses, check the current information prior to filing

How long does it take for Form I-612 to be approved?

It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 15 months to get Form I-612 approved:

  • Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution (California Service Center) – 15 months
  • Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement (Vermont Service Center) – 3 weeks

Source: USCIS Processing Times

To check the most current processing times for Form I-612:

  • Visit the USCIS website at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times
  • Select “Form I-612” 
  • Select your category and service center (your USCIS service center is printed in the lower right corner of Form I-612 receipt notice)

Keep in mind that processing times are general estimates, and individual cases may take less or more time to complete.

Additionally, USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) during the processing of your application, which can add to the overall processing time. 

It’s crucial to respond promptly and thoroughly if you receive an RFE to avoid delays.

If your case is outside the normal processing time, you place an Outside Normal Processing Time e-Request or request assistance from your local congressman’s office.

Learn more: USCIS Expedite Request

What happens after Form I-612 is approved?

After Form I-612, the Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, is approved, the applicant may proceed with the next steps depending on their specific situation and the basis for the waiver. 

Here are the general steps that may follow the approval:

  • Notification of Approval:
      • USCIS will notify the applicant in writing if the waiver application is approved. The approval notice will provide information about the granted waiver and any conditions or requirements.
  • Consular Processing (if applicable):
      • If the J-1 visa holder is outside the U.S., they may need to undergo consular processing at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country to obtain the appropriate visa
  • Adjustment of Status (if applicable):
      • If the J-1 visa holder is already in the U.S. and is eligible for adjustment of status (e.g., applying for a green card), they may proceed with the appropriate application process
  • Applying for a Different Visa:
      • The J-1 visa holder may apply for a different non-immigrant visa, such as an H (temporary worker) or L (intracompany transferee) visa, or pursue other immigration options
  • Maintaining Legal Status:
    • Regardless of the specific path taken after the waiver is approved, it is crucial for the individual to maintain legal status in the U.S. and comply with all relevant immigration regulations

Learn More:

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Waiving the J-1 Two-Year Home Residency Requirement