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The schedule by state on the deadlines can be found here by state. Many start on October 1st until November 1st of every year. Some start on October 1st until the positions get filled. You will have to check state by state here http://www.j1waiver.com/conrad.html.
The ways to get a J1 waiver are the Conrad 30 and the waivers through the Dept of Health and Human Services http://www.globalhealth.gov/global-programs-and-initiatives/exchange-visitor-program/
and the Veteran's Administration at http://www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=2383
and Appalachian Regional Commission waiver http://www.arc.gov/j1visawaiver
The only other ways is if you can prove that you can't return to your home country because you would be subject to persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion OR if you can prove that returning to your home country would result in “exceptional hardship” to your spouse or children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. These are difficult to attain and not very common.
There is not a difference. The deadline will be based on the state you are applying in.
Good luck to you during this process and I hope this answer has helped you!
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