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Exchange Students & Au Pair Program

These are scholars or students who have entered the U.S. on a program sponsored by the U.S. government, a foreign government, or other entity. They enter temporarily to participate in a program recognized by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, or receiving training. J-1 exchange visitors may work provided that the employment is within the purview of their J-1 programs and permission is obtained from their sponsors. After receiving a degree or certificate from a U.S. institution, a J-1 exchange visitor may be granted practical training up to a maximum of 18 months.

Exchange visitors may be subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, for one or more of the following reasons:

a. They received funding from the United States Government, their own government, or an international organization in connection with their participation in the Exchange Visitor Program.

b. The education, training, or skill they are pursuing in this country appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for their country.

c. They acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

Exchange visitors who are subject to, but do not wish to comply with, the two-year home country residence requirement, may apply for a waiver of that requirement under any one of the five applicable grounds provided by the United States immigration law.

1. "No Objection" statement from the home government Note: The law precludes use of this option by medical doctors listed in "c" above. The exchange visitor's government must state that it has no objection to the exchange visitor not returning to the home country to satisfy the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and remaining in the U.S. if he or she chooses to do so.

2. Request by an interested (U.S.) Government agency, or IGA If an exchange visitor is working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. Federal Government agency, and that agency has determined that the visitor's continued stay in the United States is vital to one of its programs, a waiver may be granted if the exchange visitor's continued stay in the United States is in the public interest. Note: For applications on behalf of foreign physicians who agree to serve in medically underserved areas, please refer to Federal Register Volume 62, No. 102 of May 28, 1997.

3. Persecution If the exchange visitor believes that he or she will be persecuted upon return to the home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, he or she can apply for a waiver.

4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor If the exchange visitor can demonstrate that his or her departure from the United States would cause extreme hardship to his or her United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child, he or she may apply for a waiver. (Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.)

5. Request by a designated State Department of Health, or its equivalent Note: The law permits only medical doctors to apply for a waiver on this basis. Pursuant to the requirements of Public Law 103-416, of October 25, 1994, foreign medical graduates who have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, and who agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of receiving such waiver, and who sign a contract to continue to work at the health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and not less than three years, may apply for a waiver.

USIA Merges With DOS: Effective October 1, 1999, the United States Information Agency merged with the Department of State. The Waiver Review Branch of the Office of the General Counsel, which reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Immigration and Naturalization Service concerning waivers of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, will be transferred to the Visa Office in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

CHANGES IN WAIVER REVIEW PROCEDURES : AS OF MARCH 31, 2000

Beginning March 31, 2000, there are now only four steps to processing a waiver review application regardless of the basis of the waiver.

STEP 1. To apply for a recommendation for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement under any of the above bases, applicants must complete a REVISED Data Sheet [Editor's note: REVISED Data sheet can be obtained by contacting Perry & Baker] application and send

a) the Data Sheet application,

b) two self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelopes (S.A.S.E) and

c) a processing fee of US$136 per application in the form of a cashier's check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of State to: Postal Service : US Department of State , Waiver Review Division, P. O. Box 952137 (Box 952137) St. Louis, MO 63195-2137. Courier Service: US Department of State , Waiver Review Division, 1005 Convention Plaza St. Louis, MO 63101-1200. Please Note: ONLY REVISED DATA SHEET APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED. Applications with other versions of the Data Sheet will be returned to the sender without processing. Please write on the cashier's check or money order the applicant's full name, date of birth and Social Security Number, if any. Remittances must be drawn on a bank or other institution located in the U.S. and made payable in U.S. currency to the U.S. Department of State. If the applicant resides outside the United States at the time of application, remittance may be made by bank international money order of foreign draft drawn on an institution in the U.S. and made payable to the U.S. Department of State in U.S. currency.

STEP 2. Once the Waiver Review Division has received your Data Sheet application, they will use your self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelopes, to send you a case number and instruction sheet on how to proceed with your application under the basis you designated on your Data Sheet application. This information will include a list of documents that you must submit to complete your waiver review application. After you have received your case number, you must write the full case number on any documentation you submit as well as on the outside envelope of all future correspondence with this office. If you do not write the case number on all correspondence and on the outside of the envelope, the documents you submit will be returned to you.

STEP 3. It is your responsibility to submit all requested documents and required letters sent on your behalf. Once US Department of State Waiver Review Division has sent you the check list of items necessary to complete the review of your application (Step 2 above), the Waiver Review Office will NOT follow up on documents that have not been received. Rather, it will be your responsibility to ensure that your file is complete. You may check on the status of your application ONLY by calling (202) 663-1600. You must have your full case number in order to obtain the status of your case through this telephone number. The Waiver Review Division recommends that you submit all the requested documents at the same time. Some letters (such as a "No Objection" statement from your government) must be submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division by the Embassy. In that case, you, as the applicant, must request that the Embassy write your full case number on the "No Objection" statement and also on the outside of the envelope to be sent to the Waiver Review Division. You may, if the third party agrees, have all of your documents forwarded to the Waiver Review Division through the third party. Please note, however, that ALL documents sent to the Waiver Review Division must have your file number clearly visible on it, and on the outside of the envelope or they will be returned to you.

STEP 4: At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and you will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address listed on your data sheet. If your application is denied, you will be notified directly.

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USIA Merges With DOS: Effective October 1, 1999, the United States Information Agency merged with the Department of State. The Waiver Review Branch of the Office of the General Counsel, which reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Immigration and Naturalization Service concerning waivers of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, will be transferred to the Visa Office in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

New mailing address will be: U.S. Department of State Waiver Review Division Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office SA-1, Room L603 2401 E Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20522-0106. To inquire about pending waiver cases or advisory opinions as to whether an individual is subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, please contact the Public Inquiries Division, at telephone number 202/663-1225, fax number 202/663-3899 or E-mail legalnet@state.gov. For general 212(e) waiver information, please visit website at travel.state.gov or call fax-on-demand at 202/647-3000.

  • United States Information Agency (USIA 1953-1999-USIA)
  • Statement of Policy: The Agency announces its policy regarding requests for waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement set forth in Section 1182(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act based upon the applicant's assertion that fulfillment of such requirement is not possible due to the loss of home country citizenship. EFFECTIVE DATE: This policy statement is effective August 7, 1998. (Volume 63, Number 152)] Federal Register:22 CFR Part 514 Exchange Visitor Program Statement of Policy.
  • Revised Exchange-Visitor Skills List: effective March 17, 1997. Please be advised that persons on an exchange visitor program who entered the country on or after July 12, 1984 and prior to March 17, 1997, shall continue to be governed by the 1984 Skills List, as amended. Individuals who entered the country to begin an exchange program prior to July 12, 1984 are subject to the 1972 Skills List, as amended in 1978. Those beginning programs on or after March 17, 1997 will be subject to the 1997 Skills List. These J visa holders may travel outside the United States and, upon re-entry, they shall continue to be governed by the appropriate Skills List, as indicated above, as long as they are re-entering to continue in the same program area. Continuing education to obtain a further degree in the same area would not constitute a change that would affect the above. Receipt of a new J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy does not affect the above, as long as the exchange visitor is continuing in the same program or program area.
  • Exhange Visitors Skills List Amendment- 12/24/97: deletes the Czech Republic from the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Retroactive release from Skills List obligation for all countries without skills lists.
  • Exchange Visitor Program Regulations: 22 CFR 514 Current regulations governing all aspects of the Exchange Visitor Program.
  • The Office of General Counsel (GC): provides for all legal services to USIA (except the Office of the Inspector General, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors) including its overseas USIS posts, VOA, WorldNet TV and the Fulbright Exchange Program. The Exchange Visitor Program Services Office operates the public and private sector J-visa exchange program. The Program Designation Branch designates public and private organizations to operate under our auspices to bring foreign visitors to the United States and to send Americans to foreign countries. The Waiver Branch of GC/V recommends certain waivers of the mandatory 2-year home residence rule for J-visa holders who are funded by a government, come here to receive graduate medical education or training or whose relevant skill is on a published "skills list."
  • J Exchange Program
  • J Exchange Federal Register Notices
  • Responsible Officer Program Manual: The United States Information Agency has prepared this training manual to assist those who administer exchange visitor programs. The manual will help sponsors and their responsible officers and alternate responsible officers to understand the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, but it does not replace the regulations.
  • J Visa updates-by Matthew Bender
  • What is the au pair program? The United States Information Agency (USIA) established the au pair program in 1986 as an educational and cultural exchange with a strong child care component. "Au pair" is French for "on the par," reminding host families that their international visitor is to be treated as a member of the family, not an employee. USIA's rules are clear: au pairs are provided a private bedroom meals, remuneration tied to the minimum wage, a full weekend off each month, two weeks paid vacation, and up to $500 toward attending an institution of higher education. An au pair is not to work more than 10 hours a day/45 hours a week and is not expected to perform general housekeeping.
  • Fact Sheet: Au Pair Stipend: The U.S. Department of Labor determined in 1994 that an employer/employee relationship is established between the host family and the au pair. Accordingly, the stipend given an au pair must conform with minimum wage law and adjustments. The Department of Labor, having sole jurisdiction regarding matters of minimum wage, determines the credit (room and board) to be applied against the weekly stipend. Effective September 1, 1997, the au pair stipend will be increased to $139.05. This increase is also based upon the increase in minimum wage to take effect on this date. (Calculation: 45 hours @ $5.15 = $231.75 less a Department of Labor determined credit for room and board in the amount of $92.70 per week equals the weekly stipend.)The average annual cost to an American host family is about $13,000. This includes fees to the sponsoring organization, a weekly payment tied to the minimum wage (currently $139.05 a week), an educational allowance of up to $500, and room/board.
  • Au Pair Program: foreign nationals afforded the opportunity to live with an American host family and participate directly in the home life of the host family while providing limited child care services and attending a U.S. post-secondary educational institution.
  • Au Pair Section of the J Regulations
  • Academic Exchanges (Russia and NIS): The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers a variety of special programs for Russia and the New Independent States (NIS), including activities involving individual fellowships or institutional linkages. For further information, contact: European Programs Branch (ECA/A/E/EUR) U.S. Department of State SA-44, 301 4th Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20547 202/205-0525 email: exchange@usia.gov

{No person admitted under section 1101(a)(15)(J) of this title or acquiring such status after admission (i) whose participation in the program for which he came to the United States was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the Government of the United States or by the government of the country of his nationality or his last residence, (ii) who at the time of admission or acquisition of status under section 1101(a)(15)(J) of this title was a national or resident of a country which the Director of the United States Information Agency, pursuant to regulations prescribed by him, had designated as clearly requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skill in which the alien was engaged, or (iii) who came to the United States or acquired such status in order to receive graduate medical education or training, shall be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, or for permanent residence, or for a nonimmigrant visa under section 1101(a)(15)(H) or section 1101(a)(15)(L) of this title until it is established that such person has resided and been physically present in the country of his nationality or his last residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the United States}

 

 

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