J visa requires 2 year home country residence (waiver of the J Visa Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement, 212(e)).
You have two options:
- Just wait for 2-year (You need to be physically present in your home country. If you go abroad, the days during your trip are not counted)
- Apply for waiver. According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are at most 10 people per year who apply for the waiver from Japan (not from Japanese in US). The article on the waiver application HLP/Jaeger lab blog was very helpful.
My time frame (almost 3 months) was as followings:
- Feb/02/2010: All documents except for No Objection Letter were sent by FedEx (courier service) to Department of States (DOS).
- Feb/02/2010: A letter was sent to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) by registered mail (request of no objection letter).
- Feb/03/2010: Documents arrived at DOS (from Fedex record).
- Feb/08/2010: I received a call from MOFA (I was so stupid. I made trivial mistakes on the entry port to US in the form DS-3053!). I asked MOFA to send my amended DS-3053 together with no objection letter.
- Feb/09/2010: The amended DS3053 was sent to DOS by FedEx. Its copy was sent to MOFA.
- Feb/18/2010: On-line status (DOS web page) was ‘Pending’, and the documents that I sent on Feb 2nd were displayed as ‘Received’.
- Feb/24/2010: No objection statement was sent from MOFA to Embassy of Japan in US, and I got a copy by email.
- Mar/15/2010: DOS received the no objection statement.
- Mar/21/2010: On-line status (DOS web page) changed from ‘Pending’ to ‘Favorable Recommendation’.
- Mar/24/2010: DOS sent a recommendation letter to USCIS and to me.
- Apr/05/2010: I received a copy of the recommendation letter by regular mail.
- Apr/13/2010: USCIS received the recommendation letter.
- Apr/16/2010: USCIS approved my waiver case.
- Apr/19/2010: USICS sent a waiver approval notice letter.
- Apr/24/2010: I received the waiver approval notice letter by regular mail.