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Exceptional Hardship Waiver

An exchange visitor can apply for a J-1 waiver if he or she can show that their departure from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to their U.S.Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child (mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish extreme hardship).

Factors that will be considered when determining exceptional hardship include economic, physical and emotional hardship; loss of employment, educational and health opportunities, etc.
Hardship to spouse can include:

  • Where the spouse would have to disrupt their education or career;
  • A situation where they could not financially maintain 2 households;
  • A situation where they would have to give up a medical practice to accompany spouse;
  • Psychological and other hardships.

The hardship waiver only applies to spouses and children. However, hardship to other family members will be given weight if there also exists hardship to a qualifying relative.  
In order to apply for the J-1 waiver based on extreme hardship, the foreign exchange visitor must:

Step 1: Mail your Waiver Applications and Fee Payments

  1. Submit form I-612 with $585filing fee to the USCIS.

Submit form DS-3035 to the Department of State along with: legible copies of ever Form DS-2019 and IAP-66 ever issued to you, two self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelopes (SASE) and a processing fee of US$215 per application in the form of a cashier's check or money order payable to the U.S. State Department and mail it to:

(Courier Service)
US Department of State
Waiver Review Division
Box 952137
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101-1200

(Regular Service)
US Department of State
Waiver Review Division
P. O. Box 952137
St. Louis, MO 63195-2137

STEP 2: Submit Supporting Documents

There are certain supporting documents required for every waiver application, depending on which waiver you are applying for. In the case of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child, please take note that in Step 1 (above), you must submit Form I-612 (Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement) directly to USCIS. This form does not have to be submitted for every waiver application. The USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with a waiver recommendation under this basis only if the USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship.

 You may check on the status of your waiver application by visiting the J Visa Waiver Online webpage and selecting “Check the status.” IF you notice an error regarding your waiver case, you should contact Visa Services’ Public Inquiries Division at (202) 663-1225. Do not contact the Waiver Review Division.


Once it has reviewed the complete file, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the USCIS. The applicant will receive a copy of the recommendation at the address provided on the applicant's J-1 Visa Waiver Recommendation Application. If the application is denied, however, he or she will be directly notified. The estimated processing time for an exceptional hardship waiver processing is 3 to 4 months.

For more information about J-1 visa, please refer to the following links:

J-1 General Issues

Specific Information on J-1 Waivers