Players Involved in the J-1 Visa Waiver Process



Primary Care Office (PCO) – the person/organization responsible for J-1 waivers and HPSA designations at the state level.

You can find a list of PCOs here: 

An additional resource for J-1 contacts:

Questions to ask the PCO

  • What do you typically use your ‘flex’ positions for?
  • Do you fill your slots? If so, how fast?
  • What are the state specific requirements?
  • Are there any state-specific application (or other) fees? What are they for, and how much are they?
  • Are there any other agencies in this state that give waivers? For example, Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Where can I find my HPSA scores?
  • Does the candidate need a license prior to the J-1 process / where does licensure fit into the J-1 process in our state?


Ultimately, it is you the employer and not the IMG that applies for the J-1 waiver and sponsors the IMG for a change into H-1B status.

As an employer, you have the legal obligation to pay H-1B attorneys fees and filing fee costs – conversely, the IMG cannot pay for H-1B fees or costs.

Make sure you are aware of your immigration obligations.

Facilities can ask during interview process: “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?” and “Do you need visa sponsorship?”

Facilities can ask the following follow-up questions: “What is your current status?”, “What visa sponsorship is needed?”, and “How much time do you have left in your current status.

Job Seeker

You can expect candidates to want answers to the following questions:

  • Who in the organization will take the lead for immigration purposes?
  • What has been the employer’s experience in the past with J-1 waivers?
  • What attorneys has the employer used in the past?
  • What is the culture in the employer?
  • What assistance will you receive in integrating into the community?


Regardless of who pays fees and unless affirmatively agreed to the contrary, an attorney has an equal obligation to both the employer and the IMG during the J-1 waiver and H-1B process.

Open up line of communication with the attorney. Make sure you are getting all copies of correspondence with the candidate and government agency. Make sure you understand what your lawyer is doing in your case.

The J-1 waiver process is complex, detail oriented, and very time consuming. An attorney may ensure things are done effectively and in an efficient manner.

Questions to ask an attorney before hiring

  • What is your history working with the J-1 waiver process?
  • Do you have prior experience working in the J-1 waiver process in our state?
  • How do you charge? (Flat fee or hourly)

State J-1 Waiver Officer

State official who will review the J-1 waiver application and recommend the waiver for approval.

Usually, are accessible to inquiries.

Useful source of information and guidance on state waiver policies.