Exchange Visitor Program Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does it take to process an application for a Research or a Clinical waiver?
- How often do the waiver board members meet?
- Can you send me a listing of the board members’ names and phone numbers?
- My visa is about to expire. Can the waiver review board expedite my case?
- Can your office send me information about institutions that participate in the program?
- How many copies of the application package would you like submitted?
- Is there a fee for processing a waiver?
- Is there a specific format for preparing an application?
- After a favorable HHS decision, what are the next steps and those processing times?
- How many waivers does the Board review annually?
- How many members does the Board have?
- Who comprises the Board?
- Who are the technical reviewers?
- What is the most common reason for denials?
- What is the most common mistake applicants (or attorneys) make in HHS waiver applications?
- What is your best advice to applicants (attorneys) to ensure success of HHS waiver applications?
1: How long does it take HHS to process an application for a Research or a Clinical waiver?
A: It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to process clinical care applications. Research applications generally take 12 to 16 months to review. However, failure to have the correct immigration official’s clearance and signature and all of the supplemental information, clearly marked, item-by-item, may result in delays.
2: How often do the waiver board members meet?
A: The board members do not usually meet as a unit. Cases are reviewed individually by each board member, in turn.
3: Can you send me a listing of the board members’ names and phone numbers?
A: All questions about your application should be directed to the Board’s Executive Secretary, Heber Willis at Heber.Willis@hhs.gov.
4: My client’s visa is about to expire. Can the waiver review board expedite the case?
A: No. Cases are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
5: Can your office send me information about institutions that participate in the program?
A: No. It is the responsibility of each J-1 applicant to locate a sponsoring institution.
6: How many copies of the application package would you like submitted?
A: All applications submitted to HHS must include one paper copy and one identical scanned copy stored on a compact disk. Send the paper copy unbound. Submissions that do not meet this requirement may be delayed.
7: Is there a fee for processing a waiver?
A: HHS does not charge a fee to process a waiver request; however there is a State Department fee. More information is available at Exchange Visitor (J) Visas at
https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student/residency-waiver/fee.html (U.S. Department of State)
8: Is there a specific format for preparing an application?
A: The application form should be filled out. Cases submitted by outside legal counsel must represent the applicant organization, not just the J-1 applicant. A letter, or Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/g-28.pdf (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) must be signed. A cover letter from counsel is requested with no duplication of the materials supplied by the applicant institution.
For Research applications, all information required in Supplement A should be addressed and marked clearly (items 1 through 9) in a document signed by the applying institution.
For clinical care, all documents required in Supplement B must be submitted as one application package.
9: After a favorable HHS decision, what are the next steps and those processing times?
A: HHS forwards a recommendation to the Department of State waiver review branch for its consideration. Should Department of State approve the waiver request, it will forward a request to the United States Citizens & Immigration Service (USCIS) to grant a waiver to the 2 year residence request.
10: How many waivers does the Board review annually?
A: Approximately 110 cases per year.
11: How many members does the Board have?
A: The Board at all times consists of at least three Board members and the Board Chair.
12: Who comprises the Board?
A: All Board Members are HHS employees or scientists emeritus.
13: Who are the technical reviewers?
A: Technical reviews for research applications are provided by the most relevant HHS component (usually an NIH Institute).
14: What is the most common reason for research denials?
A: The exchange visitor’s own research credentials (i.e. lack of first authorship publications, lack of original and significant contributions to the research program).
15: What is the most common mistake applicants (or attorneys) make in HHS Research waiver applications?
A: Not providing the right detailed information requested on HHS Supplementary information sheet A. Lack of clarity, lack of specificity in describing to the Board what the exchange visitor’s role is within the program.
16: What is your best advice to applicants (attorneys) to ensure success of HHS waiver applications?
A: If unclear of the instructions they should contact the Executive Secretary directly before preparing their application.