U.S. Information Agency:

Waiver of Exchange Visitor Foreign Residence Requirement

NSIAD-90-212FS: Published: Jul 5, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 1990.

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Pursuant to a legislative request, GAO reviewed the 2-year foreign residence and waiver provisions of the exchange-visitor (J-visa) program administered by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), focusing on: (1) the history of the foreign residence and waiver provisions: (2) the waiver application and review process; and (3) statistics on waivers requested and granted.

GAO found that: (1) under the J-visa program, about 175,000 participants came to the United States each year for educational and cultural purposes; (2) certain J-visa participants must reside in and be physically present in their home countries or cooperating countries for at least 2 years after their departures from the United States before applying for immigrant visas; (3) graduate medical education or training participants were required to furnish affidavits attesting that they would return to their home countries upon completion of the education or training they received in the United States; and (4) the 2-year foreign residence requirement and the waiver provisions had evolved through a number of legislative changes since the J-visa program was authorized in 1948.

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