Mandatory Online Filing of J-1 Waivers Effective: Feb 1, 200909 Jan 2009
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) published a public notice in the Federal Register on December 19, 2008, announcing changes in the completion of the J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application Form (DS-3035). Beginning February 1, 2009, all applicants will be required to complete and submit form DS-3035 online. As long-time readers of MurthyDotCom and the MurthyBulletin readers know from articles such as, New J-1 Waiver Form and Increased Fee (July 5, 2002), the J-1 visa waiver application on form DS-3035 is used to waive the two-year, home residence rule, applicable to certain J-1 exchange visitors.
J-1 Waiver Process
As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are aware, certain exchange visitors subject to the two-year, home residence rule are not eligible to receive H, K, or L nonimmigrant visas or permanent resident status unless the two-year, home residence requirement is met or waived. To initiate the waiver process, for situations in which a waiver is potentially available, individuals must fill out the DS-3035, available on the DOS WebSite.
Currently, J-1 waiver applicants are able to fill the form online or download it and complete it manually. As of February 1, 2009, all applicants must complete the form online. Once completed, applicants will receive a barcode page s/he will send to the lockbox with the required fee and supporting documents. The barcode page then will be scanned into Waiver Review System (WRS), which automatically will open a case file. It is expected that the new system will significantly reduce the processing time, as the data from the two-page application will no longer need to be entered manually into the WRS database.
The DS-3035 is a relatively simple form. One should not assume, however, that obtaining a waiver of the two-year, home return requirement is a simple matter. The subject of J-1 waivers is complex, and eligibility depends upon the reason the individual is subject to the return requirement, as well as other factors. While all waivers start with the DS-3035, some also require the filing of the I-612 with the USCIS. Individuals who may be subject to the home return requirement should consult with a qualified attorney to determine appropriate options.
The DOS expects that the new requirement for online submission of the DS-3035 “will further enhance the waiver process and maintain established processing timelines for waiver applications, which ultimately benefit the applicants.” All who plan to start the waiver application process should carefully study all applicable instructions before submitting their applications.