The U.S. Department of State released its figures recently concerning the issuance of J-1 waiver recommendations. The Department of State has authority to issue waivers of the two year foreign residency requirement which often accompanies the issuance of a J-1. The standards for obtaining a J-1 waiver are typically rigorous and fraught with bureaucracy. However, once a recommendation to approve a waiver has been made to the Department of State, the approval of the waiver seems to be largely a formality.
For example, for State Department of Health waivers, in 2013 there were 1033 favorable recommendations and 0 unfavorable recommendations. These waivers include the Conrad 30 waivers for physicians. For these waivers, the State Department of Health must issue a recommendation, and each State has different standards. For example, Washington State requires at least six months of specific forms of recruitment for the position, amongst many other requirements. As such, to be successful, a fair amount of advance Human Resource planning is required.
Similarly, the Department of State reports that in the Fiscal Year 2013 it issued 111 favorable findings for Interested Government Agency-Physician waivers, and none unfavorable.
Exceptional hardship waivers were approved more often than not, with 228 recommendations. However, in this case, there were 50 cases where there was an unfavorable finding. Similarly, most No Objection statements were approved (4269), but a slight number of cases (119) were not. As far as the percentages go, a waiver based on Persecution had the least likely chance, with 31 approved and 6 cases not approved.
When it comes to obtaining a J-1 waiver, a certain amount of due diligence and planning is necessary. Identifying the appropriate waiver to pursue in the first instance is paramount. This decision will be made based on any number of program and person specific factors.