How to File Form I-612

How to File Form I-612

Form I-612 is a USCIS application for J-1 and J-2 visa holders to waive the foreign residence requirement. If you are a J-1 or J-2 visa holder who is required to go back to your country of origin yet needs to stay in the United States, you may be eligible to file Form I-612. The immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. are here to help you stay safe by remaining in the United States.

What is I-612 Form?

USCIS Form I-612 is called the “Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended).” Let’s break down that lengthy title to understand Form I-612 better.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a federal immigration law. The Act contains all of the legalities of immigration. Section 212 (e) of the INA requires certain J-1 visa holders to return to and stay in their home country for at least two years after leaving the United States. After the two-year period, the J-1 visa holder can apply for another immigrant visa, adjustment of status, or change of status. The same principle applies to J-1 family members who are J-2 visa holders.

Form I-612 is used to apply for a waiver of that two-year period requirement. You may only file Form I-612 if you are a qualified J-1 or J-2 visa holder and meet the USCIS requirements discussed further down the page. 

What Is  J-1 Visa?

The J-1 visa is also called the exchange visitors visa. It is a non-immigrant visa that allows you to legally live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time.  The J-1 visa allows immigrants to participate in exchange visitor programs to promote educational and cultural exchanges. 

Learn more about cultural exchange visas by visiting J and Q visas.  

Are you in the U.S. on a J-1 visa and interested in applying for a marriage visa? Visit J-1 visa to a marriage-based green card for more information.

What Is J-2 Visa? 

The J-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows J-1 spouses and children to join their family member(s) in the United States. J-2 visas are only available to certain J-1 visa holders’ spouses and children, depending on the particular exchange program.

Who is Subject to the Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement?

The two-year foreign residence requirement only applies to certain J-1 holders. Double-check with your sponsor or exchange program to be certain of your requirements if you are currently a J-1 holder. You are most likely subject to the two-year requirement if you are:

  • In a government-funded exchange program, paid for by either the U.S. government or your country of origin’s government.
  • In a program for specialized skills or knowledge associated with your home country. You will need to return to your country to implement your learnings.
  • In graduate medical training or educational programs 

Certain conditions must be met before you can apply for an I-612 waiver. Talk to your immigration attorney if you are in any of the above J-1 exchange programs and wish to waive the two-year requirement. 

Qualifications for Form I-612

Form I-612 is for J-1 and J-2 visa holders wanting to waive the two-year U.S. absence requirement. Again, this period of leave from the U.S. is immigration law under INA section 212(e), thus the application title.

The exchange visitors must be one of the following:

  1. J-1 exchange visitor
  2. J-2 visa holder who is no longer married to the J-1 visa holder
  3. Children of a J-1 or J-2 visa holders who are either:
    1. Married or;
    2. 21 years of age and older

You can then only file Form I-612 if you prove to USCIS that one of the following is true:

  • The exchange visitor’s U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or children is or will experience exceptional hardship if the J-1 exchange visitor left or;
  • The exchange visitor will experience persecution because of their race, religion, or political affiliation upon returning to their country of residence.

Additionally, you need a recommendation from the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Form I-612 is an extremely complex form that calls for legal knowledge and experience. The immigration attorneys at our law firm can help you navigate the complex system of immigration law so that you can remain safe and secure in the U.S.  

How to File Form I-612

Form I-612 is divided into eight sections. Below are step-by-step instructions to fill out your application for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement. Keep in mind that you must include evidence and documents supporting the information you provided in Form I-612. Consult your immigration attorney to make sure you include all necessary evidence before sending your form to USCIS. Let’s get started!

Part 1

The first part is information about here. You will include the following information in this section of your Form I-612:

  • A-number
  • USCIS online account number
  • Your full legal name
  • Other names you have used
  • Mailing address
  • Marital status
  • Date of birth 
  • Country and location of birth 
  • Country of citizenship or nationality 

Part 2

You then inform USCIS about why you are required to return to your home country for the INA two-year requirement. Choose one of the four options listed on your form:

  1. You are in a government-financed program
  2. You received grants, stipends, or allowances from the government (the U.S. or foreign) for your exchange program
  3. You are in a program for specialized knowledge or skill
  4. You participate in graduate medical education or training

Part 3

Next, mark why you are applying for Form I-612. Check only one of the boxes to indicate why you should be exempt from the INA requirement. The choices are:

  1. Your leaving will result in extreme hardship for your U.S. citizen or LPR spouse of children
  2. You will experience persecution upon your return to your home country

If applicable, you will also write in your spouse’s and children’s information.  

Part 4

Part 4 is titled “Additional Information About You.”  You will write about yourself, including your program and sponsor information, occupation, and U.S. entry dates. You will also indicate information about additional people listed in your form if any. 

Parts 5-7

Parts 5-7 of the form are for: 

  • Statements
  • Contact information
  • Declarations
  • Certifications
  • Signatures

Applicants, interpreters, and preparers will each fill in the sections and signatures. It’s critical that you include all signatures on your Form I-612. USCIS rejects any form that does not include your signature.

Part 8

Use the last section of the form if you need extra space to include information. 

Form I-612 Processing Time

Form I-612’s processing time is between two months to a year, depending on the service center and form category. You can check your Form I-612 status online here by typing in your receipt number and clicking “check status.” Your I-612 approval notice may be delayed if USCIS has a large backlog of immigration forms. 

Form I-612 Filing Fee

You must pay $930 to submit Form I-612 to the appropriate mailing address.

Contact An Immigration Attorney Today

The circumstances that warrant filling out Form I-612 can be extremely frightening and stressful. The immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. want to make sure you and your family do not experience hardship or persecution of any kind. We can help gather evidence and file your immigration forms to allow you to stay safe in the United States. 

Our immigration attorneys have over 70 years of combined experience helping people in your position remain with their families and escape impending persecution. Call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form with any questions about your visa, absence requirements, and filing Form I-612 to stay in the United States. We are here to help! 

We're looking forward to hearing from you!