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Fear of Persecution Waiver

A waiver may be filed if the exchange visitor feels that he or she will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinion if they return to their home country.. Under this type of waiver, the Department of State (DOS) has the authority to deny a waiver on “program and policy” grounds even if the USCIS finds that the exchange visitor would be subjectto persecution. J-1 persecution waivers are very rare and they take a long time to process because there are several internal reviews at the DOS that must take place.  The processing time for this petition according to the State Department’s website is about 3-4 months. In order to apply for this waiver, the exchange visitor must:

Step 1: Mail your Waiver Applications and Fee Payments

  1. Submit form I-612 with $585 filing fee to the USCIS.
  1. Submit form DS-3035 to the Department of State along with: legible copies of every 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 a possible persecution waiver, 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 persecution.

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.

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

J-1 General Issues

Specific Information on J-1 Waivers