Waiver requests are being handled by the Waiver Review Branch of the EVP Services, Office of the General Counsel, USIA. Its staff complement consists of a branch chief, four waiver officers, and support personnel. The waiver officers review and process waiver application on behalf of the branch. Waiver decisions are made on a case-by-case basis taking into account program, policy and foreign relations consideration. In all waiver cases, except those based upon fear of persecution, the Waiver Review Branch requests the views of the U.S. Government program sponsor if the particular program has been financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. government. The Exchange Visitor Waiver Review Board acts only in cases where there is disagreement between and among U.S. government agencies as to whether the waiver should be granted or when waiver cases seem unusually significant, sensitive and controversial. The Exchange Visitor Waiver Review Board consists of USIA officers.
The INS normally follows the recommendation of the USIA to grant a waiver on all grounds, although it has the authority to deny the waiver. If the recommendation from the USIA is negative, however, INS is precluded from granting waiver.
There are currently five bases for applying for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, namely:
- "No-Objection Statement" (NOS) from the Home Country
- Interest of a U.S. Government (USG) Agency
- Fear of Persecution
- Exceptional Hardship
- The Conrad State 20