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DIS Title Divider Visiting Scientists Title Divider 212 (e ) Waiver Policy​
Visiting Scientists
212(e) Waiver Policy​

A waiver is an immigration benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It removes the two-year home country physical presence residence requirement [commonly referred to as “212(e)”] and associated restrictions from a J-1 Exchange Visitor subject to 212(e).

However, certain waivers require an initial favorable recommendation from the Department of State (DOS) before being granted by the USCIS. The DOS will provide a letter with their decision to recommend or not recommend the waiver. The DOS also forwards its recommendation letter to the USCIS. The USCIS will then formally approve or deny the waiver on Form I-612.

For more information about the two-year home residence requirement, 212(e), please see our 212(e) Home Residence Requirement page.

Obtaining a Waiver

You must apply for a waiver. There are five different pathways to request a waiver. Determine your basis and make your application directly with the DOS Waiver Review Division. You may or may not need a job offer to apply depending on the type of application you submit. During the review of your waiver application, the DOS will contact the NIH for our sponsor views on waiver applications submitted by Exchange Visitors who are or have been sponsored and/or funded by the NIH.

FOR J-2 Dependents: In most circumstances, a J-2 dependent cannot apply for a waiver. This application is not generally necessary since the J-2 would benefit from an approved waiver by the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor. However, a J-2 dependent may need to apply for a waiver in the event of the death or divorce of the primary J-1 or if the J-2 dependent previously held J-1 status and was subject to 212(e) but has not satisfied the requirement.

Common Pathway: No-Objection Statement (NOS) Waiver

A No-Objection Statement (NOS) waiver is one of the five types of waivers. It is a common basis for Exchange Visitors to apply for a waiver, which requires the “no-objection” of their home country government. To learn about this type, visit the DOS Waiver Review Division. Please review NIH’s Waiver Policy on when we can support a No-Objection Statement (NOS) waiver (i.e. issue favorable sponsor views). If you are sponsored by the NIH, please contact the DIS before submitting a waiver application or taking any action that may affect your immigration status.

When to Apply

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We suggest that you apply for a waiver or initiate the green card process when you are able to meet eligibility requirements described by the DOS Waiver Review Division and the NIH's Waiver Policy.

Understand, however, that applying for a waiver or initiating the green card process has implications for international travel and extension or transfer of your J-1 status. Unfortunately, it is typically not possible for your J-1 status to be extended or transferred after you apply for a waiver. Contact the DIS before submitting a waiver application or taking any action that may affect your immigration status.

DOS Waiver Processing Times

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Waiver processing times vary depending on your waiver application. General processing times are available from the DOS Waiver Review Division.

Please note that processing times do not begin until all required items are received by the DOS. These times are only estimates and are subject to change without notice. Additionally, these time frames do not include the time it takes your embassy to process and/or issue a No-Objection Statement, the time it takes the NIH to consider and submit favorable sponsor views, or the time it takes the USCIS to formally approve the waiver. See USCIS processing times here

If you have questions on the process or wish to confirm receipt of materials to the DOS, you can check their online case status system or contact them via e-mail at 212ewaiver@state.gov.

Sponsor Views

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During review of your waiver application, the DOS contacts the DIS/NIH to learn whether or not the NIH supports the waiver. These comments, which can be favorable or unfavorable, are known as “Sponsor Views.” The DIS is the only office at the NIH with the authority to provide sponsor views to the DOS. We do not begin our review for sponsor views until we are formally contacted by the DOS. After receipt of the DOS request for sponsor views, the DIS/NIH will generally consider favorable sponsor views based on an employment offer to you from the NIH or an employer outside the NIH, but located within the U.S. The job offer must be made directly to you, the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor, and not to your J-2 dependent.

It takes the DIS/NIH up to thirty (30) days to consider a favorable sponsor view after receipt of the DOS sponsor view request AND the documents per NIH’s Waiver Policy. You can check the status of DIS/NIH sponsor views via our online case status system. Enter your DOS waiver case number in the relevant field to check the status of sponsor views.

Please review NIH's Waiver Policy to learn the full and exact details of what is required. Note that the NIH will not support a waiver based on an outside job offer that will place you at the NIH (such as a position with an NIH contractor). If you have received a job offer from the NIH, read the “Employment with NIH” section. If you have received a job offer outside the NIH, read the “Employment Outside NIH” section. In addition, you must review the conditions attached to the NIH issuing a favorable sponsor view in the “NIH Policy on NOS Waivers” section.

Please note NIH’s Waiver Policy does not apply to J-1 Exchange Visitors whose program was not sponsored by NIH. If DIS receives a sponsor view request for a J-1 Exchange Visitor whose J-1 program was not sponsored by the NIH, DIS will review these requests on a case by case basis and update the applicant following our response to DOS.

Diversity Lottery

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To obtain a favorable opinion from the NIH on a "No-Objection Statement” (NOS) waiver request, an applicant who is a lottery finalist will not have to obtain a valid outside job offer from an employer in the United States. NIH will provide our sponsor views directly to the DOS upon its request to review the waiver application. Lottery winners must provide a copy of the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery notice of registration from the Kentucky Consular Center to the DIS BEFORE sponsor views are issued. Further information on waivers and the DV lottery can be found here.

After Approval

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If you have been offered employment with the NIH, send a copy of your approval notice to the Immigration Specialist handling your case.

If, however, your waiver approval is based on an outside job offer, the DIS does not need a copy. Carefully read the ‘NIH Policy on NOS Waivers’ section of NIH's Waiver Policy to learn how long you can stay at the NIH after you receive a waiver based on an outside job. This policy applies to you, the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor, and to your J-2 dependents.

If you did not receive the waiver approval notice (Form I-612), contact USCIS.

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