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Overview of J-1 Waivers

Please note that this webpage only discusses the J-1 waiver process for Conrad 30 and HHS waivers. It does not discuss the No Objection waiver process. Information about the No Objection J-1 waiver can be found on the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html.

Certain foreign researchers, and physicians or professors who engage in research or clinical duties, who entered the USA in J-1 status, at some time, are subject to a two-year foreign residence requirement. This requirement mandates that the J-1 employee return to his/her country of last residence for a period of two years before being able to seek employment in the USA in H-1B status or obtain US permanent residence. A few methods exist that allow the two year requirement to be waived.

One method, being used by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is to request a J-1 waiver through an Interested Government Agency (IGA). For J-1 foreign employees who engage in research, the Health & Human Services (HHS) waiver may be possible.  J-1 foreign physicians who engage in clinical duties may qualify for a Conrad 30 Waiver.

Health & Human Services (HHS) J-1 Waiver: The HHS Waiver process is a request that the US Dept. of Health & Human Services sponsor the J-1 researcher for a waiver of the two year foreign residence requirement. To qualify for an HHS waiver, the J-1 researcher must show that his/her research is of national interest to the U.S. and that VUMC has recruited and is unable to find a U.S. worker for the position. It takes approximately 6 – 8 months for HHS to process a waiver case once VUMC Immigration Services has submitted it.

HHS will review the application received and, if they support of the application, will request that the Department of State recommend the J-1 employee for the waiver. Once the Dept. of State provides a letter of waiver recommendation, VUMC will apply for H-1B status on behalf of the J-1 researcher.

Conrad State 30 J-1 Waiver: The Conrad State 30 Waiver process requires VUMC Immigration Services to first request that the Tennessee Dept. of Health, Office of Health Access (OHA) sponsor the J-1 physician for a waiver of the two year foreign residence requirement. To obtain the Conrad State 30 Waiver, the J-1 physician must agree to employment with Vanderbilt University Medical Center for at least 3 years and no less than 40 clinical hours of work per week. VUMC is also required to show that a reasonable recruitment was conducted and that the J-1 physician was the best candidate for the position.

The OHA will review the application received and, upon sponsorship approval, will request that the Department of State recommend the J-1 physician for the waiver. Once the Dept. of State provides a letter of waiver recommendation, VUMC will apply for H-1B status on behalf of the J-1 physician.


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